THE COMMUNITY RATING SYSTEM: MAKING IT WORK FOR LOUISIANA This first publication explores reasons behind the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System’s low participation rate, details the benefits of this incentive program to individuals and communities, and provides recommendations for maximizing the economic and risk mitigation benefits for Louisiana communities. 


This first publication explores reasons behind the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System’s low participation rate, details the benefits of this incentive program to individuals and communities, and provides recommendations for maximizing the economic and risk mitigation benefits for Louisiana communities. 

CPEX releases first issue brief to further the conversation on building resilience in our region and inform critical decisions being made throughout the recovery and rebuilding process.


disaster resources

American Planning Association's "Planning for Post-Disaster Recovery"

American Society of Landscape Architects' "Resilient Design Guide"

Farmers Legal Action Group's "Farmer Eligibility for Disaster Unemployment Assistance"

Baton Rouge Area Chamber's Recovery Resources for Businesses

Greater New Orleans Housing Authority's "Emergency Relief - Louisiana Flood Resource Guide

Preservation Center of New Orleans "Disaster Recovery Guide"

Louisiana Municipal Association's "Mayors' Guide to Emergency and Disaster Response"

City of New Orleans "Main Street Resilience Plan" resources

LSU Ag Center's "Preventing Flood Damage" home design resources

St. Bernard Project (SBP)'s "Mold Remediation Guide"

August 30 eblast - CPEX Flood Updates - Day 18

(to view the original email, click here)

To our friends, colleagues, and "Planning in the News" enthusiasts,

As promised, we are reaching out again in the interest of keeping you up to date with what we know about the recent flooding events around our state.
First, we want to summarize some of the key statistics and early analyses being reported from various state and local agencies and non-profits involved in recovery. (Again, these figures may be subject to change, as more information is being collected every day on this vast destruction.)
- More than 119,000 households have applied for FEMA assistance
- FEMA assistance approved for temporary rental assistance, home repairs, and other disaster response aid totals over $132M
- More than 25,000 NFIP (Flood Insurance) claims have been filed, totaling over $15M
- More than 359,000 residents of the Baton Rouge MSA (9 of 20 parishes with disaster declaration) live in areas that experienced flooding
- Estimated total value of homes in the 9-parish Baton Rouge MSA located in flooded areas is $30.4B
- In North Baton Rouge, an estimated 52% of homes are located in flooded areas
- In Livingston Parish, the Sheriff estimates 75% of homes are "a total loss," and in Central, LA, the Mayor estimates 27,000 of 28,000 homes sustained damage.
- 6.9 Trillion gallons of rain fell over an 8-day period (enough to fill 10.4 million Olympic swimming pools, 3 times as much rain as Louisiana got during Katrina). 
- Watson, LA got over 31 inches of rain in 3 days.

In response to this unprecedented catastrophe, CPEX has jumped into high gear and is working on a number of fronts with the intention of aligning and coordinating short-term response and resources with long-term planning and rebuilding objectives to greatest extent possible. The immediate next steps we are taking now include:

  • Publishing an issue brief on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)’s Community Rating System, detailing the challenges and opportunities associated with this program and providing recommendations for maximizing the economic and risk mitigation benefits of the program for Louisiana communities.
  • Adding a track featuring experts on Resilience and Rebuilding to the 2016 Louisiana Smart Growth Summit taking place November 1-2 in Baton Rouge.
  • Compiling information and best practices in planning from a network of expert partners and affiliates around the country and the world to help Louisiana decision makers plan for our state’s recovery and increased resilience.
  • Identifying resources such as Smart Growth America's Governor's Institute that could have huge implications for learning from other disasters across the US in making post-flood investment and policy decisions.

Throughout coming months, CPEX staff and board will be actively reaching out to our network of experts to develop strategies and policies that could influence decision makers at all scales.

Critical decisions about recovery are being made daily, and large quantities of public funds will be dedicated to these efforts. The time for getting it right and ensuring that we’re investing in strategies that result in more resilient communities that are less susceptible to disasters such as the one we’ve just experienced is now. CPEX is fully committed to uplifting expert voices and lessons learned, and advocating assertively for recovery and resiliency planning that strengthens our communities, towns and region.
Thank you as always for your support of smart planning and effective policy for Louisiana.

- CPEX staff

August 19 eblast - CPEX updates - Louisiana Flood

(to view the original email, click here)

To our friends, colleagues, and "Planning in the News" enthusiasts,

Like many of you, our hearts are heavy with the devastating losses around our state over the past week. While we are individually doing all we can to assist family members and neighbors who have suffered damages, we maintain our focus on bringing planning and policy expertise to bear as our community looks toward our collective future.

The following is what we know as of now, compiled from communications we're getting from various state and local agencies and nonprofit partners. Of course in times of disaster, information is ever-changing and often tentative, so we will provide additional updates as we learn more. As we know, the floods extended far outside Baton Rouge, with 21 parishes falling under the federal Major Disaster Declaration. This accounts for roughly 1/3 of the state, geographically.

  • An estimated 40,000 homes sustained flood damage (preliminary numbers, analysis ongoing).
  • Of the 8 parishes in the Baton Rouge MSA, 31% of homes are in flood-affected areas (representing 107,000 homes).
  • The estimated total value of those homes located in areas identified as flooded in the Baton Rouge MSA is $20.7 billion.
  • Overall, 7,028 businesses employing 70,404 individuals are located in areas identified as flood-affected. 
  • As of Friday, 8/19, over 86,000 people have registered for FEMA assistance since the disaster began (a 5 day period).
  • Over 15,800 NFIP (flood insurance) claims have been filed to date.
  • A total of approx. 7,000 evacuees stayed in area shelters over the night of August 16th. 
  • There are approximately 40 shelters that are being run or supported by the Red Cross or other agencies.
  • According to Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, only 12% of homes in hard-hit Baton Rouge had flood insurance, and only 14% in Lafayette.
  • In Denham Springs, 86.6% of homes are located in flooded areas.
  • In Livingston Parish, more than $9 billion worth of homes are in flood-affected areas; the combined coverage of all Livingston flood policies amounts to less than $2.5 billion.

Check here for updates on BRAC's preliminary analysis of community and economic impact from around our area.

While we are currently in disaster response and stabilization mode, CPEX staff and leadership have already begun discussions about our role in our region's upcoming recovery and rebuilding process. Smart, community-driven planning will play a lead role in rebuilding communities designed to thrive against a changing environmental context. CPEX is poised to work directly with the impacted communities, and we are ready to leverage our expertise and networks to harness the most effective models and lessons learned from around the world to ensure positive long-term outcomes for South Louisiana. Though the floods affected people of all incomes, early indications show that a majority of victims are working-class or low-income individuals and families. Rebuilding efforts must address the needs of these individuals who face additional challenges and the threat of prolonged displacement.

Thank you for all you're doing to help move our community and state forward during this time of crisis.

- CPEX staff

August 16 eblast - CPEX Tips for Flood Assistance

(to view the original email, click here)

As our state finds itself faced with unprecedented destruction, CPEX wants to help our friends and neighbors experiencing flood damage. The following is not professional advice, we are simply sharing the knowledge available through our staff, partners, and friends that we feel will be helpful. Please circulate to anyone in need of this information, and be sure to confirm anything you read here with your government, insurance, and construction representatives.  
Navigating FEMA:
If you live in the following parishes, you are now eligible for FEMA assistance:

Acadia, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. Landry, Tangipahoa and Vermillion.

The following are some tips for navigating FEMA assistance from our Senior Vice President, Camille Manning-Broome, a former FEMA employee who worked on long-term recovery in the wakes of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"After working for FEMA during Katrina and Rita, I know how difficult it can be for victims to understand the financial aid assistance process. Please pass this along to anyone who needs help.

If you have flood damage, you should file a claim, whether you have flood insurance or not. You may be eligible for some assistance even if you have flood insurance. You should also file a claim regardless of whether you are or are not in a floodplain. You should apply if you had any damage. The process does not take a lot of time and at least you get into the queue to understand what monies may be available to you.
The more claims FEMA receives, the more informed they are about the extent of the damage.
The FEMA number is 1-800-621-FEMA and claims can be filed at Click here to see the assistance, grants, and loans that FEMA provides for flood victims.

When people apply, make sure that they are very clear that they are not living at home now. If they are with friends and family then FEMA may not give rental assistance right away, whereas if they are in a hotel or other rental housing, they may be able to get rental assistance right away.

Individuals who do not have flood insurance and need a loan for renovations can apply for Individual Assistance (IA) and get low-interest loans through SBA."
Next steps:

"As a past FEMA employee and someone who has lots of friends that work there, here is the process that you can't find on-line.

After you fill out your online application, you will receive an email telling you that an inspection is required but it is vague (you will receive this shortly after you submit your application).

After registering an inspection will occur. FEMA sends an inspector to your property to inspect it and verify damages, prove occupancy (driver's license, utility bill), and prove ownership (title, or insurance), car damages (proof of liability insurance for your car, title and registration will be good to have on hand). Pictures of the damage should be taken prior to doing any work, if possible. 

Inspectors work neighborhoods and if the rest of the neighborhood is in similar condition, they will take that into account. If you apply for a low interest loan through the SBA, they will send their own inspectors. Keep pictures and receipts in case they want to look at those too."

What to do NOW in your home:
Please click here to download some great tips for homeowners with flood damage provided by Ryan Environmental here in Baton Rouge.
Additional basics:
First, you want to get everything wet out of the house, including baseboards and sheetrock. If you do this early, you won't have to take the walls to the studs. Unfortunately, there are no humidifiers in the city but you can purchase on Amazon (for those who have the means). You also need big fans to start drying and circulating the air flow so that you don't get mold. You can make straight cuts in the sheetrock and do in phases to see how much you can salvage. Most people start at four feet off the ground. Pull all the wet insulation out, keeping in mind that insulation may have soaked moisture higher than the waterline. This all depends on high the water was in your house. Most sheetrock is laid sideways and the division line is at four ft. Cutting there will make it easier to put in new sheetrock.

Volunteers for Homeowners

Homeowners in need of volunteers to assist in demo/renovation can call Samaritan's Purse Volunteers:

Greenwell Springs Baptist Church
19421 Greenwell Springs Road
Greenwell Springs, LA 70739
Homeowner Phone: 985-402-4350

Also, homeowners can always call 2-1-1, or check Capital Area United Way's flood information page.

We have also been made aware of assistance available for teachers through the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana:

Additional Resources:

FEMA Flood Insurance Claims Handbook
FEMA Assitance to Individuals and Households
FEMA Registration Intake Video Tutorial
Louisiana Dept. of Insurance - Flood Recovery - After the Flood - File Your Claim
Louisiana Municipal Authority newsletter
The Advocate article - how to apply for help
Together Baton Rouge - flood survey
Apple store - photo timestamp app (one of many)