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Drainage Engineering:  Flood Awareness Facts

The following Flood Protection Information provided on is updated annually to meet the requirements for CRS Recertification.
Updated May 1, 2015


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FEMA 2008 Flood Maps or visit FEMA Map Service Center External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge

Useful Information Regarding Flooding

Mayor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness 225.389.2100
Engineering Division 225.389.3196
Permit and Inspection Division 225.389.3228, or 225.389.3226
Environmental Division 225.389.5456
or visit:
FEMA External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge
FEMA Repetitive Floodloss - University of New Orleans' Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge

LSU AgCenter Flood Map Portal External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge

LSU Ag Center External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge
National Flood Insurance Program External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge
USGS River and Stream Flow Conditions External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge
USGS Water Resources Louisiana: Streamflow Current Water Data External web link not maintained by City of Baton Rouge

Flood Warning Program for East Baton Rouge Parish Residents

The East Baton Rouge Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness maintains an early Flood Warning Program. Most of the flooding damage occurs due to backwater flooding along the Amite and Comite Rivers and their tributaries. With the technology of today, our local weather service can predict most approaching severe storms and the amount of rain that may fall in given areas. The warning time for flash flooding will be approximately two hours advance notice and 24 to 48 hours for backwater river flooding. With this knowledge available, the rise and fall of the local rivers and streams in our communities can be predicated. This information is passed on to the local television and radio stations by the weather service to be made public so that the necessary steps can be taken to protect our property from flood waters and the damage it will cause. Know your flood warning signals, create an emergency plan and, prepare a disaster supply kit. To find out more on warnings and emergency preparedness visit the Mayor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 225.389.2100. Listed below are some helpful Flood Emergency Phone Numbers:

Local Television Stations
WBRZ Channel 2 - 225.387.2222
WAFB Channel 9 - 225.383.9999
WVLA Channel 33 - 225.766.3233
WBTR Channel 19 - 225.928.3146

All Commercial AM & FM Radio Stations
NOAA Radio KHB46
National Weather Service - 225.357.9743
Cable TV Channels 2 & 16

Know Your Flood Hazard

In East Baton Rouge Parish approximately 40 percent of the land area has a potential of being flooded by a 100 year frequency flood. The principle flooding in the Parish is caused by backwater flooding along the Amite and Comite Rivers and their tributaries. Beside the flooding caused by the Amite River the major tributaries that are affected by backwater include: the Comite River, Jones Creek, Claycut Bayou and Bayou Manchac. The backwater of Bayou Manchac in turn affects Ward Creek and Bayou Fountain. The backwater that affects the Comite River also causes major flooding to its tributaries which are Draughan Creek, Beaver Bayou, Shoe Creek, Blackwater Bayou, Hurricane Creek and lower Cypress Bayou. The major floods, that have caused the most damage on the Amite River, Comite River and their tributaries occurred in 1953, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1990, 1995 and 2001. These floods range in frequency from 10 to 50 year floods.

Flood Hazard Disclosure

In accordance with City-Parish Ordinance 7210, every transferor of land and/or building, including real estate agents, real estate brokers or notary public, are required to provide a flood hazard disclosure statement to prospective buyers of land and/or buildings.

Are you in a Special Flood Hazard Area?

Find out if your property is in the regulatory floodplain by calling the City Floodplain Management Office at 225.389.3196. Maps for EBR Parish are also available for review at all of the EBR Parish Public Libraries, or visit:, and,

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) publications which include information on flood protection methods, flood insurance and, floodplain management are also available at most of these same locations. They can also provide you with information such as,  flood insurance purchase requirements, development requirements and other flood hazards.

Copies of elevation certificate of recently constructed structures are available at the local Permit Office 225.389.3233. Otherwise, they can be obtained by a professional land surveyor for a fee.

Flood Zone Determination and Certificates of Elevation

Flood Zone Determinations are provided by the DPW Engineering Division. Certificates of Elevation are provided by Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors or Registered Architects from the private sector on a fee basis.

Buy Flood Insurance

Even if youíre not in the mapped floodplain, you may be subject to local drainage flooding. In either case, flood insurance can be a good investment because homeownersí insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding. Also flood insurance is required by law in order to obtain federal secured financing to buy, build, or renovate a structure located in a FEMA SFHA. There are two types of coverage: structural and contents. Renters can buy contents coverage even if the owner does not insure the structure. To find out more about flood insurance contact your property insurance agent to see what policy is right for you. Donít wait for the next flood. Note: Flood insurance is not included in homeowners insurance.

NOTE: Flood Insurance is not covered by normal homeowners insurances.

* 100 Year Flood Plain

Build Responsibly!

Check with the Building Department before you build, alter, regrade or fill your property. A permit is needed to ensure that a project is compliant with all regulations. These regulations are designed to protect your property from flood damage and to make sure you donít cause a drainage problem for neighbors. To find out how to get a permit contact the Permit and Inspection Office 225.389.3229.

What are "Freeboard Requirements" and Why are they Necessary?

Freeboard provides a safety factor for greater protection against flash flooding, headwater flooding and backwater flooding. What is Freeboard? Freeboard is a term used to describe a factor of safety expressed in feet above a design flood level for flood protective or control works. Freeboard is intended to allow for the uncertainties in analysis, design and construction which cannot be fully or readily considered. The building permit applicant can build with confidence since the risk of a flooded structure has been greatly reduced.

Why is a Certificate of Elevation and The Plan Review Process Needed when Building?

The Certificate of Elevation form is a prerequisite to obtaining flood insurance for policy holders in all "A" flood zones.

This Certificate of Elevation and review program provides consistent regulations to prevent one development from adversely affecting another development.

The Special Flood Hazard (100 year flood plain) boundaries on flood maps are approximate. The Certificate of Elevation determines the flood zone for your property and insures the proper elevation of your building. For example, without a Certificate of Elevation, owners who built structures that are located in flood zones B and X, as shown on the flood maps, may actually be lower than the 100 year flood hazard area.

Building permit applicants in Flood Zone A receive a significant reduction in their flood insurance rates by elevating their structure to meet the new one (1) foot freeboard requirement. Building permit applicants in Flood Zones X also receive a reduction in their flood insurance rate by elevating their structures to meet the one (1) foot freeboard requirement since these elevated structures qualify for a preferred risk policy.

Fill Restriction Requirement

In accordance with Section 8:852 (6) of our flood plain regulations there is a conditional restriction on the placement of fill in the flood plain area. While termed fill restriction, this local ordinance actually restricts the loss of the existing flood storage volume (holding capacity) that exist between natural ground and the flood elevation.

In addition to the restrictions noted above, our building regulations stipulate that no fill may be placed in a manner which will cause a burden or hardship on adjoining properties.

Any illegal land filling, dumping or excavation of land or drainage ways should be reported to the Department of Public Works at 225.389.3090.

How does the Community Benefit from the Ordinance?

The new Freeboard Requirements entitle our community to receive additional credit in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Community Rating System (CRS) Program. This program which is similar to the one used for fire rating classifications has been established to classify FEMA participating communities for determining flood insurance rates. Communities are rated from Class 1 to Class 10. The lower the classification, the lower the flood insurance rates for that community. East Baton Rouge Parish has a rating classification of a 6, which results in a 20% discount in flood insurance rates.

Substantially Damaged/Improvement Requirements

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires all structures that are determined to be substantially damaged or substantially improved, to meet the same construction requirements as a new building. A structure is considered substantially damaged or substantially improved if the cost necessary to fully repair the structure to its before damaged condition is equal to or greater than 50% (40% in EBR Parish) of the structures market value before damages.

In the case of an addition, only the addition must be protected. In the case of substantial improvement/damage to the original building the entire building must be protected. A building can be substantially damaged by from any cause of loss, not just flooding hazards other than flooding such as fire or tornados.

When elevating or flood proofing new or existing structures is required or desired, a design professional, architect, structural engineer, or licensed contractor should be consulted for suggestions as to methods that one may take. These professionals should be knowledgeable or have had experience in one or more methods of flood proofing and or retrofitting a structure as described in the FEMA design manuals. FEMA provides manuals titled "Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas", Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures" - (FEMA 114) and, "Flood proofing Non-Residential Structures" - (FEMA 102), which is informative for those who wish to remain in the special flood hazard areas and would like to make improvements. There are also other FEMA publications available through the E.B.R. Parish Inspection and Engineering Divisions and your local parish library which will aid the owner or builder in protecting and flood proofing the structure from future hazard situations.

Property Protection Measures

Talk to us about protecting your house or business. You can protect your home or business from drainage and flooding problems by modifying you building to minimize flood damage. Where flooding is shallow, measures such as small floodwalls, regrading the yard, and flood proofing the wall or utilities , and installing a one-way check valve in the sewer line, can be relatively inexpensive. Where flooding is deep you may need to elevate your building or relocate out of the floodplain, build levees or structural closers as a barrier against flooding. For more information on flood proofing your building there are publications in the EBR Public Libraries or you can give us a call at the Cityís Floodplain Management Office at 225.389.3196. If sandbags are needed contact Emergence Management Office for locations 225.389.2100.

Maintain and Protect Natural Floodplains

Donít pour oil grease, pesticides or other pollutants down storm drains or into the ditches and streams. Our streams and wetlands help moderate flooding and are habitat for fish and other wild life that provides us with recreation or food. Letís protect them and their homes. The city has and ordinance that makes it illegal to dump debris in streams channels and drainage systems.

The city also has a drainage maintenance program which can remove blockages from a drainage ditch or stream such as downed trees and branches. To report a problem call the Citizen Service Department at 225.389.3090 or dial 3-1-1.

Flood Safety

Do Not Walk Through Flood Waters. Currents are deceptive; 6 inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.

Do Not Drive Through a Flooded Area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around barriers, the road or bridge may be washed out.

Stay Away from Power Lines and Electrical Wires. The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Report down power lines to power company or Mayor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Turn off all electrical circuits and gas lines that may come in contact with flood water.

Look Out for Animals, Especially Snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours.

If your property is known to flood or it is located in a flood hazard area and flood warnings are issued, you should take all necessary steps to protect your family. Preparing for an emergency can reduce the possibility of personal injury, loss of life and damage to property. Know your flood warnings signals, Be prepared to evacuate, know where you will go before the emergency arises, create an emergency plan and prepare a disaster supply kit. To find out more information on flood warnings and emergency preparedness contact the Mayor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at 225.389.2100.