Digital flood insurance rate maps and their influence on Cameron Parish, Louisiana, post-Hurricane Rita
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Cameron Parish, Louisiana, was impacted by one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in U.S. history in 2005. Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Hurricane Rita stormed over the Texas-Louisiana border delivering another debilitating blow to the Louisiana coast and creating devastation along the southwestern coastline. In March 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Cameron Parish. These maps rezoned much of Cameron Parish by placing a majority of the parish's land in a flood zone rating of V or higher. FEMA's reluctance to provide federal disaster funds to substantially redevelop and newly construct buildings in areas classified as a flood zone rating of V or higher makes it difficult for Cameron Parish to redevelop as they desperately need federal assistance. This research analyzes Cameron Parish's resources to protect against the hurricane before it hit as well as roles of the federal, state, and local governing bodies on its future development through planning initiatives after the hurricane. Using literature review, state and local media coverage, and interviews with professionals in the field of planning and engineering, this report found that it took a massive hurricane to convey the need for planning in Cameron Parish, and that the flood maps used to provide risk do not communicate risk management as efficiently or accurately as intended.