In the wake of the flooding that has killed thirteen people and displaced thousands in Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has proposed requiring companies and home owners who use federal funds on construction projects to build on higher ground in flood-prone areas – specifically, two feet above the 100-year floodplain level.
The new regulations are based around a January 2015 executive order signed by President Barack Obama, which requires new flood protection standards for projects funded by federal dollars. Said executive order was de-funded in July by an appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives, amid concerns that new regulations would drive up building costs. There is also the issue of the accuracy of the maps, which according to numerous geographers are haphazard and inaccurate, so much so that scores of coastal municipalities have challenged them.
Billie Kaumaya, federal legislative director for the National Association of Home Builders, said many builders are concerned that federal agencies will issue conflicting rules, making it hard to predict where a building can be located. “How will we know what is in and out of the floodplain?” she said. “There’s so many questions surrounding that.”