Denham Springs — Homeowners in Denham Springs may see their flood insurance premiums go down in the coming years as officials try to improve the city’s rating.
In their last meeting, City Council members signed off on a resolution approving a program to spread information on flood mitigation. Several nearby parishes and municipalities collaborated on the plan, though each, including Denham Springs, also contributed specific local information.
The plan codifies many of the strategies the city already is employing, said Mayor Gerard Landry
City employees receive training in flood damage mitigation and work with real estate agents and LSU researchers to identify flood-prone property, said building official Rick Foster, who heads the city’s program.
Those authorities can then approach those homeowners and give them information on programs such as federal grant money that subsidizes owners who raise susceptible properties. Owners of high-risk property can also sell their land to the government, who will turn the area into green space and prohibit future building, Foster explained.
“Some people don’t know there are options out there,” he said.
The city can also work with developers to design new buildings that will be resistant to high waters. Foster can suggest a variety of techniques and material for raising a new home, such as placing a garage or storage area under the residence, and he may advocate that developers raise the building higher than legally required when prudent.
Not all of Denham Springs is a susceptible to flooding, but roughly 75 percent of the city lies in some sort of flood zone, Foster said. Some properties flood “again and again and again,” tying up emergency services and hurting insurance rates across the region, he said.
“Repetitive loss is a burden for everyone,” he said.
The new public information plan hopes to address those repeatedly flooded homes. Implementing the plan also helps the city’s community rating with the National Flood Insurance Program. Just as fire districts are rated for home insurance, parishes and municipalities are judged on their flood preparedness. However, since flood insurance is managed by the government, there is a more direct relationship.
Denham Springs is currently rated an 8, the same as Walker, while Baton Rouge is a 6, Foster said.
Property owners in Denham Springs with flood insurance currently get 10 percent off their premiums due to the city’s rating, Foster said.
In May 2017, insurance auditors will review Denham Springs’s flood preparedness, and Foster believes that, with additional programming such as the public information plan, the city can drop a rating. If that happens, property owners will receive a total of 15 percent off their premiums.
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