Lafayette Consolidated Government is dedicated to minimizing the loss of life and property that is associated with flooding events. Education and prevention are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to these natural disasters. LCG recognizes that its entire community is susceptible to flooding, not just those structures located within Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA’s). The following information has been provided to help inform property owners located within the SFHA, flood prone areas and also all property owners of LCG.
The City-Parish of Lafayette is located in southwest Louisiana, approximately 40 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The normal annual precipitation averages 54-58 inches. The oil industry plays a vital role in the parish economy, yet the area remains diversified, depending greatly upon agriculture and distribution of retail and wholesale trade.
The Vermilion River is the major waterway that winds its way through Lafayette Parish, and is the area’s major stormwater drainage outfall being fed by Bayou Carencro, Bayou Queue de Tortue, Beau Basin, Coulee Bend, Grand Avenue Coulee, Coulee des Poches, Coulee Ile des Cannes, Coulee Mine, Francois Coulee, Gaston Coulee, and the Isaac Verot Coulee. The Vermilion River passes near several communities and across the Intracoastal Waterway before it empties into Vermilion Bay, which connects the Gulf of Mexico. According to the USGS, the flood stage of the Vermilion River at Surrey Street is approximately ten (10) feet.
During high flood stages, an unusual phenomenon occurs on the Vermilion River. When the river below Pinhook Bridge is unable to carry high flows, the direction is reversed upstream toward the low marsh areas east of Lafayette Parish. This reversal is limited to the reach between Pinhook Bridge and Long Bridge where the left descending bank borders a low swamp area. When the stages downstream of Pinhook Bridge are relatively low, the direction of flow is in the normal downstream direction.
Significant floods are reported to have occurred as early as 1907. Other significant floods occurred in 1927, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1995, 2001 (Tropical Storm Allison), 2004, and 2012. The most severe flood in the area occurred in August 1940, and studies of this flood showed extremely heavy rainfall at the Lafayette Airport daily rainfall station. For the four-day period of August 6-9, a rainfall of 27.33 inches was recorded; for the 10-day period of August 1-10, a rainfall of 37.86 inches was recorded.
The purchase federal flood insurance is highly recommended. Basic homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover damage from floods. LCG participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the parish. Remember there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents. During the kind of flooding that happens in Lafayette Parish, there is usually more damage to furniture and the contents than there is to the structure. Remember that a flood insurance policy must be renewed each year.
Mandatory Purchase Requirement: The mandatory purchase requirement applies to all forms of federal or federally related financial assistance for buildings located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This requirement affects loans and grants for the purchase, construction, repair, or improvement of any publicly or privately owned buildings in the SFHA, including machinery, equipment, fixtures and furnishings contained in such buildings. If a building is located in a SFHA, the agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building.
For more information about flood insurance contact:
Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Various alternatives are available to help minimize flooding. If the floor level of your property or structure is lower than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) located on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), consider ways to prevent flooding from occurring such as retrofitting your building. "Retrofitting" means altering your building to eliminate or reduce flood damage.
Retrofitting measures include:
There are several good references on retrofitting at the Lafayette Public Library. Many of these will inform you about retrofitting techniques and help you decide which is best for you.
Lafayette is a beautiful place to live. The undisturbed marshes and wetlands provide a wide range of benefits to the human and natural systems. They provide flood storage and conveyance, reduce flood velocities and flood peaks. Water quality is improved through the marshes and wetlands ability to filter nutrients and impurities from runoff and process organic wastes. The local marshes and wetlands provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, and protect habitats for rare and endangered species. The floodplains are an important asset. They provide open space, aesthetic pleasure, and areas for active and passive uses.
If flooding is imminent and evacuation of the parish is advised, LCG will notify you through local radio and Cable TV. Additionally, the Parish will be receiving information from NOAA Weather Station Radio broadcasts weather information at 162.550 MHZ 24 hours a day and from the National Weather Service Offices in Louisiana The local contact number is 985.385.1770 or the City of Morgan City’s Planning and Zoning Office at 985.380.4724. Please call in reference to evacuation notices, procedures and shelters.
All development in Lafayette Parish needs local and state permits. Contact the Planning, Zoning and Development Department at 337.291.8491 for advice before you build, fill, place a manufactured home or otherwise develop. The zoning ordinance, flood control ordinance and the International Building Codes have special provisions regulating construction and other developments within floodplains. Without these provisions, flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available to property owners of Lafayette Parish. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal; such activity can be reported to the Floodplain Administrator at 337.291.8468.
What is substantial improvement? The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement, must conform or meet the same construction requirements as a new building and be constructed above the minimum Base Flood Elevation (BFE) listed on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).
What is substantial damage? Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a building or structure when the cost of restoring the building to its pre-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the building before the damage occurred. Substantial damage is determined regardless of the actual repair work performed.
Lafayette Consolidated Government requires, by ordinance, that any substantial improvement or substantial damage improvement must have a building permit. Permit information can be obtained at the Planning, Zoning and Development Department located at 220 West Willow Street, Building B or by calling 337.291.8461.
It is illegal in Lafayette Parish to dump any type of debris into a canal, stream, river or drainage ditch. This debris can become entangled in culverts and shallow streambeds, canals or drainage ditches and impede drainage causing the flow of water to back up. Citizens of Lafayette should also keep drainage ditches on their property free of debris, foliage and vegetation that would impede the flow of water. Debris dumping should be reported to the Public Works Department at 337.291.8517.
Citizens of Lafayette can obtain flood information concerning flooding, flood maps, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements, flood insurance requirements and inquiries, and flood zone determinations from the Floodplain Administrator at 337.291.8468.
Elevation Certificates of many properties in the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA’s) are available and on file at the Planning, Zoning and Development Department and copies are available upon request for $25.00.
Real time river gauge information can obtained through the following websites: waterdata.usgs.gov/la/nwis/rt or through www.usgs.gov.
Concerned citizens and the general public can obtain information on flood protection assistance from the Floodplain Administrator at 337.291.8468 or the Public Works Department at 337.291.8517. Flood protection assistance provided by Lafayette Consolidated Government is site-specific flood and flood related data, data on historical flooding in the neighborhood and similar information so inquirers can relate the flood threat to their problems.
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Lafayette is a STORM READY COMMUNITY. Find out more.
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705 West University Avenue, Lafayette, Louisiana 70506
For General Information/Questions Please Call: (337) 291-8200