Move Landward

Move landward to avoid the hazard

Avoiding existing or potential hazards as much as possible is usually a property owner’s most efficient and cost-effective response. This is especially true when siting new development, as structures can be built as far away (landward) from the hazard as possible. Poor lot selection and siting decisions are difficult to overcome, although improved design and construction can mitigate the risks. FEMA has produced a series of Fact Sheets to provide technical guidance and recommendations concerning the construction of coastal residential buildings. The State of Louisiana Department of Natural Resources website may be useful in identifying the FEMA fact sheets of interest.

To ensure safety of an existing structure that is being threatened by erosion or flooding, a property owner can elevate a structure or move landward. One of the most effective ways to ensure safety of an existing structure that is threatened by erosion or landslides (bluff erosion) is to relocate the structure out of the hazardous area, typically in a landward direction. Although moving landward can be very effective in minimizing the hazard, it can also be expensive. Costs vary from several thousand dollars to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, and are based on the existing foundation of the structure, size of the structure, topography and geology, and distance the structure may need to be moved. Relocation of a structure can also be constrained by the size of a property and any applicable setbacks, such as from other existing structures or roadways.

As much as is practical, consider moving back to avoid some hazards and relocate structures outside a mapped flood zone. Building standards are extremely restrictive in the “V-Zone” which are areas along the coast subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event (100-year flood event) with additional hazards associated with storm-induced waves. Building standards will be less restrictive if a structure is moved back to the “A-Zone” which is an area subject to inundation by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event without the additional risk of storm wave action. More information on FEMA coastal flooding building codes can be found on their website.

Consideration should also be given to significant habitat resources or environmentally sensitive areas, which are usually identified by municipal or state regulations.