Calling the recent flooding event in Louisiana one of the most significant natural disasters in the United States, catastrophe modelling firm RMS said flood insurance participation is low in the parishes most affected by floods. Flooding since Aug. 11 has been particularly severe in the parishes of Livingston, where around 39,000 homes have been flooded; Ascension, where 15,000 homes flooded; East Baton Rouge and Tangipahoa.
Approximately 12 percent of businesses and homes in East Baton Rouge Parish and Tangipahoa Parish are covered by flood insurance, according to RMS. In Ascension and Livingston parishes approximately 23 percent of properties are covered by flood insurance. Only 1 percent of property owners in St. Helena Parish hold flood insurance.
RMS said that the many properties sustaining flood damage that are either uninsured or underinsured for flood are expected to rely on federal disaster grants in parishes declared as major disaster areas.
The catastrophe modelling firm pointed out that even before the record rainfall that began on Aug. 11, the state had already been experiencing an extremely wet year.
“Louisiana was experiencing one of the top 20 wettest years on average leading up to this flood event. The already heavily saturated soil conditions have only helped to exacerbate the flooding, signifying the importance of having a view of flood risk that inherently reflects antecedent conditions pre-event. Doing so ensures that rainfall discharge, runoff, and inundation are captured as accurately as possible,” said Jeff Waters, a meteorologist and flood risk expert at RMS.
Waters added that “the fact that floodwaters overtopped a levee at Laurel Ridge stresses the importance of understanding the sensitivities of flood risk mitigation strategies, including defense and levee failures.
“It’s difficult to tie any single event to climate change. However, this flooding is an example of what could happen as a result of climate change and increased greenhouse gases: an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events.”
Additional rainfall forecast will exacerbate current ground water conditions and river levels, increasing the risk of flooding, though accumulations are not expected to be nearly as heavy as experienced over the previous weekend, RMS said.
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