Letter From Louisiana

Dear Colleagues,

The Center for Planning Excellence is reaching out to our high capacity partners and national stakeholders to give you an update on the circumstances in South Louisiana right now. Conditions are far more dire than you are seeing on the national news, and we want to keep you informed of the breadth of the damage, as recovery efforts will require a coordinated effort from across sectors at every scale, for years to come.

The following is what we know as of now, compiled from communications we’re getting from various state and local agencies and nonprofit partners. Of course in times of disaster, information is ever-changing and often tentative, so we will provide additional updates as we learn more. For context: The floods are being described as occurring “in and around Baton Rouge,” but actually, 20 parishes (counties) fall under the federal Major Disaster Declaration, with more expected to be announced as waters in some areas continue to rise. This accounts for roughly one-third of the state, geographically.

Louisiana Flood Map 2016 Large
• Impacted area covers more than 1,000 square miles.
• More than 60,000 homes sustained flood damage (preliminary numbers).
• Of the eight parishes (counties) in the Baton Rouge MSA, 31 percent of homes are in flood-affected areas (representing 107,000 homes).
• Total value of homes in affected areas is estimated at $5.7 billion.
• Overall, 7,364 businesses employing 73,907 individuals are located in areas identified as flood-affected by SDMI.
• As of Monday, August 22, more than 100,000 people had registered for FEMA assistance.
• More than 15,800 NFIP (flood insurance) claims have been filed to date.
• There are approximately 40 shelters that are being run or supported by the Red Cross or other agencies.
• According to Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, only 12 percent of homes in hard-hit Baton Rouge had flood insurance and only 14 percent in Lafayette.

While we are currently in disaster response and stabilization mode, CPEX staff and leadership have already begun discussions about our role in our region’s upcoming recovery and rebuilding process. Smart, community-driven planning will play a lead role in rebuilding communities designed to thrive against a changing environmental context. CPEX is poised to work directly with the impacted communities, and we are ready to leverage our expertise and networks to harness the most effective models and lessons learned from around the world to ensure positive long-term outcomes for South Louisiana. Though the floods affected people of all incomes, early indications show that a majority of victims are working-class or low-income individuals and families. Rebuilding efforts must address the needs of these individuals who face additional challenges and the threat of prolonged displacement.
Please stay tuned in coming weeks and months as we learn more and look to you and our other national partners to support and inform the rebuilding process.

Financial donations may be sent to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.


Elizabeth “Boo” Thomas, FASLA, President and CEO
Center for Planning Excellence
Baton Rouge, Louisiana