House raising

Workers with Davie Shoring and Moving Co. of Kenner unload steel column forms into which cement will be poured for pilings to elevate a home at 6037 Wickfield Dr., in New Orleans, on April 1, 2007. A Mandeville non-profit has received a nearly $7 million NOAA grant to train Lake Charles area workers in home elevation and floodproofing skills. (Staff archive photo by Ellis Lucia)?

A nonprofit flood mitigation trade association based in Mandeville has received a nearly $7 million federal grant to train workers in the Lake Charles area to flood-proof commercial buildings and elevate homes in flood-prone areas.

The Flood Mitigation Industry Association will develop a training program with the $6.9 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant awarded through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The program will focus on elevation techniques taught by trainers with the International Association of Structural Movers and a manufacturer of hydraulic jacking machines used to lift buildings. Potential workers also will be trained to install flood-proofing products and nature-based solutions to protect communities from flooding.

Trained recruits will be placed into paid apprenticeships, and jobs in the flood mitigation industry. ?Development of the program’s curriculum will begin in August, and recruitment of students will begin by March, a spokesperson for the association said.

The funding comes as demand for workers with those skills is expected to surge, thanks to a joint Army Corps of Engineers and Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority program to elevate 3,462 homes, floodproof 342 commercial structures and reduce the flood risk of 157 warehouses in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes.

Elevation, floodproofing

This map shows where homes and businesses are proposed to be elevated or floodproofed under a joint Army Corps of Engineers and Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority program in Calcasieu, Cameron and Vermilion parishes. (Army Corps of Engineers)?

The homes will be raised between 5 feet and 13 feet, to projected 2075 100-year base flood elevations, with 100% of the cost covered. The Corps will provide 65% of the cost and the CPRA will cover the rest.

Public meetings were held by the Corps and CPRA this week to explain the program to local residents and businesses. The Corps has received $296 million for the first 800 to 1,000 homes, and it has already begun design work on the first 27 elevations.

While the training grant is limited to the southwest Louisiana area, it is being developed as a pilot program “with the intention of making it translatable to coastal and flood-vulnerable communities around the country,” said Dan Hanson, a spokesperson for the association.

Roderick Scott, president of the association, pointed out that the Corps has similar projects planned in other parts of Louisiana and elsewhere around the country. Among them:

  • A project in Iberia, St. Mary and St. Martin parishes that could include elevation and floodproofing for 1,790 residences and floodproofing of 450 businesses.
  • A similar project still in the early design phases for St. Tammany Parish could include 6,500 structures.
  • The Corps also has a similar project in New Jersey’s Back Bays area that could include the elevation of 18,000 structures, and another in Nassau County, N.Y., that would include 14,000 structure elevations. ?

Similar elevation and floodproofing projects also are sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both as mitigation for flood damage and as advance mitigation in areas prone to flooding.

Email Mark Schleifstein at or follow him on Twitter, @MSchleifstein. His work is supported with a grant funded by the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.