DENHAM SPRINGS - Ten more homes will go up, while two will fall off the books.
Monday night, the Denham Springs city council approved a total of twelve more applications for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) elevations and acquisitions. That brings the full slate to twenty homes in two years which have been elevated in Denham Springs through the program, with two homes now being demolished and turned to green space.
Homes which are elevated are lifted to at least one foot above the base flood elevation, but most hold flood insurance in perpetuity. Homes which are acquired and demolished are turned to permanent green space and require a move from the United States Congress to return to commerce.
The HMGP program was developed for homes which have been repetitive loss for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Currently, the federal government is trying to re-write flood controls and disaster response in order to keep FEMA more solvent and the HMGP program was founded.
Homeowners can pay a certain percent match, anywhere from 25% to 0% depending on what level of flood plain the home sits, to have their home elevated or acquired through the HMGP.
Some of the points stressed by a local engineering firm include:
- Flood insurance must be kept on the home if elevated, although cost of insurance drops
- Mitigation must be cost effective for the federal government - meaning cost of grant must outweigh future disaster payouts
- 100% cost coverage for those in severe repetitive loss areas, match goes down from there. Not in a designated flood zone? Homeowner must come up with 25% match
- FEMA covers standard-grade materials. Example used was a porch to be elevated - FEMA would cover wood for the porch, homeowner must pay the difference if they want higher-grade materials.
- The costs related to elevating building additions or auxiliary structures is not included in the grant funding
Both the cities of Walker and Denham Springs host their own HMGP programs while the parish runs their applications through the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LOHSEP).
Batches of grants are submitted based on the fiscal year of the specific government applying. Once approved, congress must appropriate the funds before the projects can begin.
Interested parties can contact the City of Denham Springs or City of Walker for more information, or LOHSEP at 225-686-3987.