According to the Damage Assessment Wizard on the City of New Orleans website, our house “is NOT substantially damaged.” It also says: “You may continue to FastTrack Permitting and you will NOT be required to elevate your structure in order to secure a permit to restore your building.”

Perhaps that’s because our property is listed as “41.94% Damaged.” Now how the hell did they come up with that figure? I’m not sure, but I suspect they may have just looked at how high the water came versus the height of the house.

It also says that we are in “Flood Zone: A4 (100 YR FLOOD EVENT) 0 (AT SEA LEVEL)” which I understand to mean that our land is right at sea level. But I’ve heard this data is from a 1984 survey. We’ve probably sunk a bit since then.

Then there’s the following advice:

It is recommended that all owners whose properties are currently below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) strongly consider raising the level of structures in order to avoid future flooding and potential insurance difficulties. FEMA offers Flood Mitigation Assistance of up to $30,000 for work that will bring a structure above BFE.

So, to sum up, we don’t have to elevate, but maybe we should.

  1. On the topic of Flooding, and in particular the fact that it is expected to flood in NOLA every so-many years, does the fact that flooding is expected and will continue to happen so long as people live at or below sea level make you wonder if it’s not a little bit crazy NOT to raise your house up to withstand another CAT5?

  2. These decisions on the extent of damage and whether a house needs to be raised do not seem based on sound science or investigation. My house was deemed to be over 50 percent damaged and needs to be raised, according to the city. But every other house on my block–all of which were flooded to the same level–are deemed to be around 30 percent damaged and do not need to be raised. It makes no sense at all. It seems very arbitrary to me.

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