Local leaders examining causes of Red River flooding

Local leaders examining causes of Red River flooding

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The findings of a study on the June 2015 Red River flood could lead to changes in development along the river and possibly new legislation.

The Red River rose to 7 feet above flood stage in June 2015, cresting at more than 37 feet. Since then, the river has crested above flood stage at least 3 more times.

This historic flood prompted local leaders in Caddo and Bossier Parish to join up with other associations and commissions to form a flood technical committee. The goal was to both understand the underlying causes of the flooding and figure out how to prevent future flooding.

"I'm not saying the sky is falling, but I'm saying the sky is pretty low. I'm saying the river is going to flood again," said Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator. "Make your preparations now. The river isn't getting better."

The committee concluded that the build-up of silt and urbanization have had a big impact on the river over time.

Approximately 1.6 million cubic yards of silt is ending up in the Red River near Shreveport each year. That is equivalent to 115,000 large dump trucks.The committee determined it is not economically feasible to remove the silt by dredging the river.

The committee also determined that the base flood elevation is no longer accurate. The current base flood elevation is 166 feet, which was established almost 40 years ago.

"When you build anything, whether it's the dikes or structures between the levees, you are taking away flood storage," explained Executive Director of the Red River Valley Association Richard Brontoli. "A lot was done since 1990 and really nobody had gone in and said what's the impact of everything that's been done."

At the end of the meeting, the technical committee recommended that local public agencies use the high water marks from the study to regulate development and establish legislation that will allow preservation of open space for flood place storage protection.

Administrator of the Caddo Parish Levee Board Ali Mustapha said, "We shot [these high water marks] so close to each other so you can get very good accurate information. So, if you are trying to develop at this point, what you need to be building to so you can be prepared to build above that high water mark and protect your investment from flooding."

The committee also wants a corps of engineers to complete their survey of the Red River. However, they need more funding, which is something local officials are lobbying for.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needs the data from the survey to establish new base flood elevations and flood maps.

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