BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council held a special meeting Wednesday night where council members voted unanimously to amend the current definition of substantial damage and record inundation for the city-parish development code.
The decision came after hours of discussion. The decision now changes the percentage of substantial damage from 40 percent to 50 percent, but council members admit they still need more clarification on how it affects the average homeowner.
"We're still trying to all figure out exactly what that means, how does that impact everybody. So we're asking additional questions even after tonight to make sure that there's some significant clarification about where people move forward and how do they get back to rebuilding their homes," said Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker.
Much of the meeting raised more questions than answers, with residents and even council members frustrated with the overload of different information coming out of the process.
"That's the problem I have," admitted Metro Councilman Scott Wilson. "There's another rule every day. Every week there's something new and it's B.S."
Wicker said she understands the frustration but, overall, is confident in the small progress being made each day.
"I think we've been able to identify certain areas that need to be tweaked and allow for that process to move forward in a much more expedient way because people need to be able to get back to some sense of the new normal," Wicker added.
Nearly half of East Baton Rouge Parish sustained damage from flooding that started on August 12. Roughly 227 square miles, including 64,947 structures, experienced significant flooding.
The area of the parish that had the greatest percentage of damage was Central with 81.72 percent. Zachary was second with 47.2 percent, followed by Baker with 45.3 percent. Baton Rouge had the lowest percentage at 27.4 percent, but it is the largest city within the parish and had 24.1 square miles of damage.
During the flood event, 13 people died with five of those occurring in East Baton Rouge Parish.