Louisiana's Morganza Spillway Flooding May Cause Up to $2 Billion in Residential Property Damage

Louisiana's Morganza Spillway Flooding May Cause Up to $2 Billion in Residential Property Damage

Residential News » Residential Real Estate Edition | By Michael Gerrity | May 23, 2011 9:19 AM ET

Terrebonne, Saint Mary and Assumption Parishes Could Suffer Highest Potential Loss

According to CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), released this week the results of a study showing more than $2 billion in residential property at risk for potential flood damage from the opening of the Morganza Spillway in Louisiana.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the spillway May 14 to divert record-high Mississippi River water levels away from densely populated metro areas like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and to relieve pressure on downstream levees sparing hundreds of thousands of homes as well as numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the Mississippi River.

The analysis from CoreLogic shows that many homes in otherwise low-risk zones are in the path of floodwaters and that a total of 21,272 homes are at risk of being fully or partially inundated by the floodwaters flowing down from the Atchafalaya Basin. Those homes represent 11 percent of the total homes in the nine parishes most directly impacted by the opening of the spillway.

The CoreLogic analysis revealed Terrebonne Parish could suffer the highest potential loss with 10,324 homes at risk for flood damage, followed by Saint Mary Parish with 3,777 homes at risk and Assumption Parish with 2,899 homes in the path of spillway floodwaters. Of the more than 20,000 homes located in the overall potential Atchafalaya flood area, 4,528 homes are located outside of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defined flood zones and are therefore not required to maintain flood insurance policies.

According to Dr. Howard Botts, vice president and director of database development for CoreLogic, "When compiling the flood risk numbers, we were not only surprised by the more than $2 billion in potential residential property loss, but also by the percent of homes in the path of floodwaters that are not located in a FEMA 100-year flood zone. Of the more than 21,000 homes in the area exposed to the waters flowing into the Atchafalaya basin, 21 percent are located outside of FEMA flood zones, representing more than $400 million in potential property damage."

To develop the report, CoreLogic determined property exposure to flood impact based on the potential inundation maps produced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Using the company's comprehensive parcel-level property databases and analytical models, the CoreLogic team analyzed 787,623 residential properties in 22 Louisiana parishes along the potential inundation pathway to determine property value and estimated risk.

Source: CoreLogic

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