Adaptive Changes Needed

for Shifting Coastal Population

BATON ROUGE, La. – A new report on coastal erosion and flood risk reduction efforts in Louisiana calls for greater coordination among government agencies and property owners, paying for programs with dedicated funding and improvements to the National Flood Insurance Program, among other measures.

Issued through the Center for Planning Excellence, “The View From the Coast” focuses on local needs and efforts to address land loss, coastal erosion and flood risk reduction with numerous policy recommendations that the authors describe as creating a new mindset that goes well beyond conventional protection measures like levees.

“The report focuses on ways of supplementing levee protection, things like elevating or flood-proofing homes, acquiring properties that are at high risk of flooding, educating residents about the risks and risk-reduction options, policy and more,” says Camille Manning-Broome, senior vice president of the Center for Planning Excellence and coauthor of the report.

Manning-Broome says the study found that Louisiana’s coastal residents are already moving “one town north,” a trend that has created a number of new challenges, including how communities adapt to gaining and losing populations.

“Communities experiencing population growth need additional infrastructure and policies to help ensure past mistakes aren’t repeated,” she says. Meanwhile, those losing population need help dealing with newly vacant properties in high-risk areas.”

“The View From the Coast” focuses on “nonstructural” measures – projects and programs that address where and how development takes place. The report is meant to help coordinate efforts and ensure that needs are met at the community level. It includes dozens of interviews with residents and government leaders in 16 coastal parishes and five municipalities, examining how planning is implemented at the local level.

The report’s recommendations include designating a single entity to integrate coastal-wide erosion and flood prevention, and establishing dedicated funding to help pay for those efforts. In addition, the report suggests changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that give property owners more financial breaks for following and going beyond policy guidelines when building homes and businesses.

Among the report’s other recommendations:

  • Streamlining local applications for hazard mitigation grants through FEMA
  • Developing best-practice guidelines for hazard mitigation, land use plans and elevation, as well as construction that occurs behind levees
  • Developing public education programs for nonstructural risk reduction
  • Improving information about the National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance rate maps

“The View From the Coast” was supported financially by the Walton Family Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Ford Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the National Association of Realtors. Manning-Broome’s coauthors are Jeannette Dubinin, also with the Center for Planning Excellence, and Pam Jenkins, Ph.D., sociology professor at the University of New Orleans.

About the Center for Planning Excellence

The Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) is a nonprofit organization that coordinates urban, rural and regional planning efforts in Louisiana. CPEX provides best-practice planning models, innovative policy ideas and technical assistance to individual communities that wish to create and enact master plans dealing with transportation and infrastructure needs, environmental issues and quality design for the built environment. More information is available at coastal.cpex.org.

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The only road connecting Isle de Jean Charles to Terrebonne Parish mainland continues to erode due to saltwater intrusion despite regular maintenance. The road was previously two lanes and just a decade ago was surrounded by marshland. Authors of “The View from the Coast” say that much of coastal Louisiana's infrastructure awaits a similar fate unless coastal erosion and flood risks are addressed.

The only road connecting Isle de Jean Charles to Terrebonne Parish mainland continues to erode due to saltwater intrusion despite regular maintenance. The road was previously two lanes and just a decade ago was surrounded by marshland. Authors of “The View from the Coast” say that much of coastal Louisiana's infrastructure awaits a similar fate unless coastal erosion and flood risks are addressed.

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