base flood elevation

The 1-foot freeboard requirement is just the beginning.        

Last Thursday, the Livingston Parish Council unanimously passed the requirement that would mandate new construction homes be built 12 inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in zones A and AE.

Passage came just 30 days after a multi-month debate over dirt fill, another requirement that would have limited the amount of dirt being used to raise homes to the BFE. The proposal would have kept dirt fill to, at most, 3 feet and no more. Contractors and builders would then have to find another means to lift homes to BFE, which usually took the form of pier-and-beam construction.

Dirt fill will have to be revisited, as a raise in the minimum height requirement would mean that – in some places – dirt fill could reach epic proportions … 6, 7, even 8 feet.

Engineers of varying degrees and backgrounds have expressed the need for a “study” to be done on the flood plains and flood zones to determine what height dirt fill is best, and in which areas.

Now, with freeboard, a dirt-fill requirement is imperative but perhaps a study is best, if it’s expedient.


The laundry list of things that constitute “good flood-plain management” continues to grow, year-over-year, and Livingston Parish is behind the 8-ball. Freeboard alone will not get the parish back into the Community Rating System (CRS), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) good graces – but it is a start.

Compliance will be a huge part of the parish’s fight moving forward, and with FEMA having laid the ground rules, parish officials will have no choice but to follow the path laid out by the federal agency.

So hold on, Livingston Parish, FEMA’s driving the bus on this one and fill dirt will come back around – along with other stringent requirements based around flood-plain management.

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