Report: Louisiana parishes and cities most at-risk for flooding in U.S.

In this Aug. 25, 2016 photo, debris from gutted homes line the streets of Baton Rouge after flooding. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

​​Several communities in Louisiana top the list of most at risk communities for flooding in the country.

The new study by the nonprofit First Street Foundation, which analyzes flood risk data in the face of a changing climate, found that seven of the top 20 counties in the U.S most at risk for flooding are in Louisiana:

  • Cameron, 1
  • Orleans, 2
  • Jefferson, 3
  • St. Bernard, 4
  • Plaquemines, 6
  • Terrebonne, 7
  • St. Charles, 10
  • St. John the Baptist, 15

Ranked by city, Louisiana fared just as poorly, with Metairie and New Orleans topping the list as the two most vulnerable cities in the country.

“This is particularly interesting as both of these cities are in the same metro area, meaning that there is a sizable concentration of population and risk in a small geographic area,” the report notes.

The study comes amid growing awareness of the impact extreme weather events are having on communities around the country, and just two weeks after the rollout of new nationwide flood insurance rates based on an updated assessment of risk.

The study assessed risk to communities in five areas: residential properties, roads commercial properties, critical infrastructure and social infrastructure.

Risk is quantified as the unique level of flooding for each infrastructure type relative to operational thresholds.

The Capital Region ranked relatively low on the list, though the study notes that infrastructure throughout the state is increasingly at risk for becoming inoperable over the next 30 years, including:

  • 46,065 residential properties
  • 3,699. miles of roads
  • 2,018 commercial properties
  • 124 infrastructure facilities
  • 218 social facilities

The study underscores the need to change the way we think about planning and building our communities, says Camille Manning Broome, executive director of the Center for Planning Excellence.

“We need to support local governments and increase their capacity and ability to plan for climate change impacts using the best available science and tools, and ensure that mitigation activities—including resettlement—are aligned across government scales and sectors,” she says. “Understandably, in the wake of disaster, elected officials and residents faced with catastrophic losses want to expedite recovery and return to normal as soon as possible. But the normal of yesterday no longer exists. We have to help communities to recover and adapt simultaneously.”