La. congressman says there may be hope for residents whose homes are out of federal compliance
BATON ROUGE - Nearly 3,000 homeowners across East Baton Rouge and Livingston parishes are facing a tough reality.
Many of them were shocked by the recent news their homes are in danger of flooding despite their efforts to rebuild after the flood in 2016.
"Basically what happened is that FEMA and the parishes, after the fact, determined that these homes should have been elevated before they were actually rebuilt or repaired," Congressman Garret Graves said.
Graves says property owners obviously have a lot of questions. More than 1,200 homes in Livingston Parish and about 1,700 in East Baton Rouge Parish aren't high enough off the ground, according to FEMA.
Part of the reason is that many people rebuilt their homes without permits approved by FEMA. That means their homes will have to be raised, bought out by the government or knocked down.
"FEMA verified yesterday that there's no immediate sort of sanction or penalty on these homeowners."
Last month, 2 On Your Side told you about letters that went out in Livingston Parish. The letters say their property is non-compliant and meets three criteria: The property is in a flood zone, the house is currently under base flood elevation, and it was deemed substantially damaged in the 2016 flood.
It also says the next time they need a permit to do any work on their house, they'll be required to elevate it or be on a grant list to mitigate their property.
They're elevation projects that many residents say they don't have the money to do. Graves says the good news is that there is funding that can help.
"I can run through about $8 billion in funds that we've provided to Louisiana and to the parishes in recent years for flood protection. If we can't figure it out with that kind of money, then shame on us because this is record dollars. But I am confident that a number of the homes that are currently labeled as being sanctioned will have that label removed when FEMA better understands all of the incredible flood protection projects that are underway in our region right now," Graves said.
For now, it's a waiting game to find out how, and whether, these residents can afford to stay in their homes.
Graves estimates it will cost about half-a-billion dollars to bring the homes into compliance, much of that coming from federal funds.