New rules for New Orleans homes

FEMA released long-awaited guidelines yesterday regarding repairs and new construction of homes in flood-prone areas of Louisiana:

A few residents guessed correctly when they figured their moldy, mud-stained homes might have to be lifted off the ground to qualify for flood insurance or federal rebuilding aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines released Wednesday are meant to help residents rebuild in ways that comply with early drafts of flood maps showing how high water is expected to rise during a once-in-a-100-year storm. The so-called flood advisories also detail how well the city's levees would protect residents.

The guidelines recommend that thousands of homes and businesses in the area be raised at least 3 feet. Property owners who ignore the guidelines risk losing out on government aid to rebuild and could miss an opportunity for lower flood insurance premiums.

Although floodwaters rose up to the roofs of some homes when the levees broke, the article says the new guidelines are based on the assumption that the levees will be fixed and will hold. It also says that the cost of jacking up a house is $40,000 for the first foot, and $8000 to $12,000 for each additional foot. More on the new rules and reaction from the community here.