FEMA begins substantial damage assessments in Lake Charles

Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 10:38 PM CST
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Currently in the City of Lake Charles, FEMA contractors are making assessments to determine if structures are substantially damaged from the storms.

Hurricanes Laura and Delta left so many homes and structures with significant flood and wind damage, and in Lake Charles, eight teams of FEMA contractors are evaluating the extent of that damage.

The City of Lake Charles participates in the National Flood Insurance Program and has a floodplain ordinance, which determines how structures are built and repaired in flood hazard areas. This requires the city to assess both residential and non-residential structures in those areas in Lake Charles for damages.

Doug Burguieres is the Assistant Director of Planning and development for the City of Lake Charles.

"Anytime there is a structure, whether it be residential or non-residential, if they are substantially damaged, then that property cannot be rebuilt or repaired unless it is brought up to the elevation requirement designated by FEMA,” Burguieres said.

Teams of FEMA contractors determine if a structure has substantial damage, meaning more than 50 percent damaged.

Burguieres explains what property owners must do if their structure is found to be significantly damaged.

“Once the FEMA inspectors determine whether a property is substantially damaged or not, those that are substantially damaged, they must, before they repair or replace or occupy the structure, must bring it into compliance with the FEMA regulations. They may have to elevate the property to the current standard or demolish the property to rebuild it to the current standard.”

Burguieres says the FEMA contractors are making assessments from outside of the home, since COVID-19 prevents them from entering homes.

Owners of substantially damaged property in the flood hazard areas that have flood insurance can get assistance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

“They can apply for an additional $30,000, which is called Reimbursement for Increased Cost of Compliance, to help with the elevation of that structure or to flood-proof it.”

The FEMA contractors will have a signed letter from the city and be wearing a badge for identification. Burguieres says the City Planning office will be happy to assist homeowners with getting their property in compliance. You can call the Lake Charles City Planning Office at (337) 491-1542.

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