Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Information
THE FLOOD HAZARD
Throughout Bossier Parish, the land is flat and storm water runoff is extremely slow. As a result there are numerous areas of the Parish in a Special Flood Hazard Area (S.F.H.A.), as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.).
Flat terrain provides very little gravity drainage. When the ground becomes saturated and heavy rains continue, flooding sometimes results.
The most southerly portion of the parish experiences backwater flooding from the Red River.
F.E.M.A. published maps indicating flood hazard areas and the degree of risk in those areas.
To inquire if a certain property is in a S.F.H.A., contact the Parish Engineer's office in the Benton Courthouse, phone (318) 965-2329.
MAP OF THE LOCAL FLOOD HAZARD
Property owners in flood prone areas should become familiar with these terms: "Watch" and "Warning." A "Flood Watch" means flooding is possible. A "Flash Flood Watch" means a flash flood can occur fast with little warning. A "Flood Warning" means a flood is occurring or will occur soon; it may take several hours to develop. A "Flash Flood Warning" means a flash flood is occurring or will happen very soon; precaution should be taken. Local radio and television stations should be listened to for information and instructions. A portable radio should be available in the event of electrical power outage.
Stay alert to weather bulletins that warn of flash flooding. In the event evacuation of a home or business is necessary, turn off all utilities at the main switch, BUT ONLY IF TIME PERMITS. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area. Any source of electricity should be considered as dangerous during and after flooding.
Swimming or playing in or near floodwater is life threatening. Drainage ditches carry fast-moving flood water and are extremely dangerous. Children should be cautioned.
Remember, FLOODS ARE DECEPTIVE. Flooded areas should be avoided. Do not attempt to walk through floodwater over 18 inches deep.
Property owners in flood prone areas are eligible for flood insurance. This coverage is available as a result of the Bossier Parish’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
If FEMA flood maps show that a property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which include all A and V zones, flood insurance is required by law to obtain federally secured financing to buy, build or improve a structure on that property.
An insurance agent can assist in determining the amount of coverage required. For further information call FEMA, 1-800-638-6620.
Once flood insurance has been purchased, an itemized list of furnishings, clothing and other valuables should be kept in a safe place. The insurance agent or broker should be notified immediately of any flood damage.
PROPERTY PROTECTION MEASURES
There are preventive measures that can be taken to minimize or eliminate the potential for flood damage to an existing building.
Sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber can be used to temporarily protect property.
Permanent flood-proofing measures for flood prone structures are preferable to those that are temporary. Some permanent retrofitting methods are: elevation the structure, building flood walls and enclosures and protecting utilities.
Information on retrofitting is available at the main branch of the Bossier Parish Library. Also, publications are available on flood insurance, flood protection, and floodplain management.
The main branch of the library is at 2206 Beckett Street,
phone (318) 746-1693.
Contact the office of Permits and Inspections for building code and permit requirements, phone (318) 965-2213.
DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
The Highway Department periodically checks drainage channels, ditches and structures so that stoppage is minimized and the systems are allowed to flow freely. Citizen’s with stoppage problems are encourage to contact our highway department if they think drainage channels near their homes need to be cleaned.
Citizens can greatly assist in this effort by keeping catch basins in front of their property free of debris. Also, avoid dumping debris, grass clippings, etc., into drainage ditches and catch basins.
Call the Highway Department, (318) 965-3752, for information concerning this program.
BUILDING PERMITS / FLOOD PLAIN DEVELOPMENT PERMIT
Any development in the SFHA requires a permit. This means you must obtain a permit before you build, alter, re-grade or fill on your property.
Contact the office of Permits and Inspections at (318) 965-2213 for building code and permit requirements or to report illegal development.
Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement to a building, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the building before the start of the improvement.
Substantial Damage means damage to a building by any origin (not just flood), whereby the cost of restoring the building to its before-damage condition would equal or exceed 50% of the value of the building before the damage occurred.
Buildings that are substantially improved or repaired due to substantial damage must meet the requirements of new construction specified in our Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance. This would include elevation to or above the base flood elevation plus one-foot.
NATURAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS
Floodplain's can be a valuable resource for the parish. Floodplain's that are left open can provide storage for floodwaters to minimize future flood damage. They can also provide habitat for wildlife and recreational facilities for the parish. The natural vegetation of floodplain's can also filter pollutants from storm water and improve water quality.