FEMA released its flood level recommendations for the New Orleans area, and they didn’t change the Base Flood Elevations that were established in 1984. As in pre-Katrina 1984.
Why is that? Because the levees should have worked.
In the areas protected by levees, Katrina caused far worse than 100-year level flooding. But FEMA did not recommend the Base Flood Elevation levels - the 100-year flood levels - change for those areas.
Homeowners with substantial damage must now raise their homes to the BFE when they rebuild if they want to be able to afford flood insurance in the future. And FEMA did advise that homes be built three feet above the ground. So, if your house had substantial damage and was at BFE or above it, but not three feet off the ground, you must still raise it when you rebuild.
But they are using the old BFEs. FEMA is saying that the levees should have worked, and they should work in the future. We should have been protected from Katrina’s worst. And we should be protected against future Katrinas if the USACE does their job right (pdf, pg 3):
For areas that receive the Advisories stating that communities should elevate to 3 feet above the highest adjacent existing grade on site or elevate to the BFE on the current FIRM, whichever is higher, the final elevations to be depicted on revised FIRM may be similar. However, this will be dependent on the status of the flood control system improvements as well as the involvement of the community and the USACE in developing a restoration plan for restoring the system to provide protection against the base flood.Make levees, not war. More now than ever.