BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A solution to Louisiana's flood problems could be on the horizon. The Louisiana legislature has approved a bill aimed at preventing another catastrophe like the August 2016 flood.
Louisiana is full of scenic bayous and waterways. Many people are lucky enough to take it all in just steps from their backyards, but a short cruise down the Amite River earlier this spring uncovered all that beauty could come at a cost. Rep. Valarie Hodges says she learned the hard way last August.
"We can't wait until we have another catastrophic event. We need to be proactive," said Hodges.
Scientists say two things caused homes to flood: a man-made dam designed to keep water out of Ascension, Livingston, and East Baton Rouge Parishes that failed, and further south, at the mouth of the river, a sandbar slowing water flow. Overall, this part of Louisiana is carrying a bigger burden than one might think.
"It shows all this water from Brookhaven, McComb, and Natchez, Mississippi coming in and having to flow down though Baton Rouge. This is the only place between the Amite and Comite River that it can come," said Hodges.
WAFB Chief Meteorologist Jay Grymes voiced his concerns to lawmakers.
"The key here is that it won't be another August flood that's going to cause more problems. Smaller, more manageable floods from 20 and 30 years ago are going to be problematic in some of the new developments and new neighborhoods in these three parishes in these three parishes for years to come," said Grymes.
A bill Hodges authored to tackle the problem was approved by the legislature. It calls for a statewide flood plain management plan. It directs the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to update plans in river basins across the state. The commission will also ensure that new homes in newer subdivisions won't cause other neighborhoods and other parishes to flood.
"We need to know what elevation we need to build, and I believe it will have a positive impact on flood insurance premiums and that's a big deal," said Hodges.
The plan requires parish governments in the capital area to work together. Hodges says the three parish area is on board. Once the governor signs the bill, they can get to work.
Hodges predicts the commission will have a solid plan for the capital region by next spring.