The state Office of Community Development unveiled its proposed action plan to spend $1.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant, or CDBG, mitigation funds last week at a public hearing in West Monroe.

The Oct. 24 hearing took place at the Ouachita Parish Emergency Operations Center.

The plan includes proposed projects, data collection, modeling and policy measures that advance the long-term resilience objectives of the Louisiana Watershed Initiative – how to prevent damage during major flood events like the March and August 2016 floods.

HUD has identified 10 parishes that are expected to receive at least half of the $1.2 billion to support hazard mitigation projects. Ouachita Parish is one of those areas.

Ouachita Parish officials identify flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes and tropical cyclones as significant hazards within the parish, and cites 83 events between 1990 and 2015 incurring significant flooding.

Ouachita Parish and its incorporated areas estimate total losses of $492,781,000 in the event of another major flood.

Gov. John Bel Edwards established the Council on Watershed Management in 2018, which serves as the coordinated, interagency organization at the state level for watershed-based flood risk reduction. The Louisiana Watershed Initiative serves as the Council’s programmatic arm under which all related efforts operate.

The Great Floods of 2016 – two rainfall events six months apart and affecting wide swaths of the state, caused severe flash and riverine floods and led to major disaster declarations in 56 parishes. These events have left an indelible mark on Louisiana and have exposed new challenges within the state’s approach to flood risk reduction.

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita the state has adopted stricter building codes, safer flood levels, and formed of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), which relies on science and engineering to produce and regularly update the Coastal Master Plan.

The Great Floods of 2016 exposed another risk the state faces: how to better manage riverine and flash flooding as a result of extreme precipitation events.

The state identified regional watershed-based flood risk management as a means to systematically address water management and avoid interventions that may unintentionally increase runoff or subsequent flooding on adjacent communities, upstream and downstream.

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