LA SAFE plans outline blueprint for resilience in flood-prone parishes

    The state has released a major plan to deal with coastal resilience and development in six flood-prone, coastal parishes.

    Though largely overlooked by local media, the LA SAFE report is one of the most ambitious and significant of its kind, detailing climate adaptation strategies and underscoring the problem of coastal land loss in Louisiana, which continues at the rate of nearly a football field every hour.

    That loss is continuing at an alarming rate even though the state is separately working on a $50 billion, 50-year Coastal Master Plan, which focuses on coastal restoration and flood risk reduction projects like sediment diversions and floodwall construction.

    “Even with the full implementation of the master plan, it is likely Louisiana will continue to experience net land loss,” the LA SAFE executive summary says. “In some communities, conditions are likely to get worse before they get better. For some, relocation is the only viable option.”

    To address that “existential crisis,” as the study calls it, LA SAFE presents specific community-driven strategies for six coastal parishes—Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany and Terrebonne—and focuses specifically on how and where people should develop and who should relocate to higher ground.

    Each strategy illustrates how various sectors—such as housing, transportation, stormwater management, economics and education—are moving parts of an interconnected system considered as a whole during the adaptation process to projections across 10, 25 and 50-year timelines.

    “We already have plenty of data showing that growing flood risk is driving population shifts,” says Camille Manning Broome, executive director of the Center for Planning Excellence, which did much of the work in the plan for the state’s Office of Community Development. “People are making choices about where and how they want to live based on flood risk, the costs associated with flood risk, and economic changes. Our local and parish governments need to be prepared for that.”

    The six parishes focused on in LA SAFE were recently awarded more than $41 million in Community Development Block grant funding for 10 flood-resilience projects. Those projects are currently under development.

    Though the plan has garnered scant local attention, it is grabbing national headlines. Read more about it here.

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