Louisiana Flood Victims Told They Need To Have A Permit Before They Can Repair Their Homes


Claire Bernish | The Free Thought Project

After Baton Rouge, Louisiana, suffered inundating rains and widespread, historic flooding, residents have begun the formidable cleanup and rebuilding necessary to bring some normalcy back to their lives. As laborious as these tasks might be, however, the government has no intentions of alleviating stress from the effort: burdensome building permits — essentially, government permission slips — must still be obtained before rebuilding can begin.

Considering the daunting expense of rebuilding in itself, those State permission slips may make reconstruction cost-prohibitive for some, while others — given the strict regulations pertaining to the floodplain and more — may not be allowed to rebuild on their own property at all.

“We haven’t suspended any or our requirements for permitting,” Justin Dupuy, building official for Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge, told Reason in an interview. “Before they start making any repairs, they just need to call in and check with us to see what they need.”

Any homes needing more extensive reconstruction than simply the removal of water-damaged drywall and carpeting — cases where waters reached the level of electrical sockets — will need a full construction permit from the parish government.

Fortunately, in a small act of grace pointed out by Reason, fees for reconstruction permits have been waived by local officials — though the permits, themselves, are still mandatory, as permission to repair some of the 20,000 flood-ravaged buildings in East Baton Rouge might not be given at all.

That could be an issue in more than one way. As noted by the Advocate, the housing market in Baton Rouge had been experiencing a shortage before the massive flood. Thus, anyone unable to afford reconstruction — or who won’t be granted permission to rebuild on their property — may have a difficult time uprooting and relocating in the same city.

Prior to the flood, rental property inquiries comprised just 3 to 5 percent of traffic to one real estate company’s website — after the flood waters receded, the number jumped to 84 percent as people search for temporary shelter while property is fixed or permanent relocation plans can be made.

Damage from the floods that left at least 13 people dead, in the Baton Rouge area, alone, is astronomical — and will be difficult to fully assess for some time.

According to the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, 31 percent of homes — more than 110,000 residences — in nine parishes are located in areas having been subject to flooding, affecting at least 280,910 residents. Total estimated value of flooded homes exceeds $20.5 billion — and though that tally is property value, it doesn’t account for personal belongings, vehicles, and other possessions. Just 15 percent of residential property owners had insurance against flooding.

In East Baton Rouge, nearly 33,000 residential units experienced flooding — encompassing 16.9 percent of the total units in the parish.

Over 7,300 businesses employing around 18 percent of area employees experienced flooding, as well.

Another impediment to rebuilding will be structural elevation requirements. Those not at least one foot above federal government designated flood zones must either be rebuilt to meet standards, or will be razed and occupants moved to higher ground.

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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