Water Proof: LSU AgCenter Helps Flood Victim Rebuild Stronger, More Resilient

10/13/2017
BATON ROUGE, LA - Gloria Perkins’ Baton Rouge neighborhood had never flooded before.

 “If it rained, the water would just flow out,” Perkins said.

But that changed in August of 2016, when historic rains flooded her home. Fourteen months after the Louisiana flood, her home is still gutted. She learned in September that she would receive help to rebuild from the Louisiana Department of Health’s Disaster Case Management Program. With technical assistance from the LSU AgCenter, they are educating and helping homeowners build flood-resistant homes.  

Perkins currently lives in a FEMA Manufactured Housing Unit placed in her backyard. The 63-year-old teacher’s aide said her home is not located on a flood plain, therefore flood insurance was neither required nor purchased. She said her best option to rebuild was to take out a Small Business Administration, or SBA, loan. She works two jobs: as a Pre-K teacher’s aide and part time at a senior living facility. Perkins is preparing to retire on Oct. 19.

“I knew if I took out the SBA loan, I wouldn’t be able to retire because I’m already retiring with a mortgage," she said.

Perkins said additional help wasn’t available because she qualified for an SBA loan. The project was the idea of Nici English, a resource coordinator with the Louisiana Department of Health’s Disaster Case Management Program. English was aware of the wet floodproofing technique and materials that are promoted by the AgCenter.

“This project gives us the opportunity to help a resident who otherwise would not be able to afford to rebuild her home, and it allows us to educate others on the options available to reduce the risk of having to rebuild again after a devastating rain event,” said Shandy Heil, extension associate, LSU AgCenter.

The Louisiana Department of Health’s Disaster Case Management Program helped to identify a resident willing to participate, and has played an active role in identifying resources, donated materials, and volunteers to participate in the construction.

“We’re using flood-resistant materials so that if this home was ever to flood again, the materials would be salvageable. They would not have to be thrown away, major re-gutting would not have to take place,” Heil said. “A lot of the materials are mold resistant.”

It might sound like an oxymoron, but Heil says wet floodproofing is the easiest way to rebuild after a flood. It’s also part of FEMA’s guidelines. One of the most important pieces to rebuilding a flooded home is to make sure the walls are dried out properly, so that mold doesn’t grow behind the home’s sheet rock. 

“The materials being used are not new to the market. They have been around for years and now is the time to put them to the test,” said English.

Volunteers are currently in the process of installing water resistant installation and flooring in Perkins’ home. As they work, the LSU AgCenter is producing training videos to share with home builders and home owners.  The videos will offer guidance on the materials and how to properly install them.

 “I know it sounds strange, but conventional thinking is that you do everything to make sure the water doesn’t come into your house, such as elevate it. But now we are starting to see everyone is susceptible to flooding even if you’re not in a flood plain and we can’t elevate everyone’s house. It’s just too expensive,” English said. “The materials and the principles of what we are doing is common, but actually building a house like this is technically state of the art in a lot of ways.”

 

Additional Links:
LaHouse  - http://www.lsuagcenter.com/topics/family_home/home/lahouse
Louisiana Department of Health Disaster Case Management Program -  http://www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/wp-content/uploads/ldh.pdf

 

LSU has a video uplink studio with live broadcast capabilities. Contact us to set up an interview. 

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Contact Nici English
LDH Disaster Case Management Program
225-954-0564
Nici.english@la.gov

 

Rachel Spangenthal
LSU Media Relations
225-578-3869
rachelsp@lsu.edu

 

More news and information can be found on LSU’s media center, www.lsu.edu/mediacenter.