Confusion continues in Bridge City concerning rules for rebuilding from Hurricane Ike, including a recent rumor about the city bulldozing homes. Other questions regard rebuilding on stilts or whether to rebuild at all.

Mayor Kirk Roccaforte said the city doesn’t plan to bulldoze houses. The official city stance, he said in a statement, is that, “Homes in an ‘A’ Flood Zone’ with slabs less than an eight-foot-elevation and more than 50 percent damage will require an assessment. Any homes built after 1983 will already be at  the eight-foot elevation per city code and can be issued a building permit for reconstruction. (I know this is confusing for you because it is for us.) We are currently putting together teams to be making these assessments.”

He said in a phone interview that a question of eight or nine feet is still to be determined. “We think we’ll be able to keep it at eight,” he said. “But most people are hearing that an extra foot wouldn’t cost any more so they’d be crazy not to go to the nine-foot line.”

Any home in the Bridge City city limits must have eight-foot elevation whether its on stilts or not. Undoubtedly, he said, some homes with substantial damage will have to be demolished (but not by the city). Hopefully those will be only older homes that needed to be torn down anyway, he said.

Decisions to rebuild or not must be made by the homeowner, he said.

“All I have is a house with walls,” he said. “But that’s a brick house and the bricks are good and the framework is still good. It was overwhelming when most people walked back into their homes. A lot of people immediately said, ‘I’m not going to fix up this house.’
Then they got to cleaning it up and said, ‘Well, maybe its not so bad.’”

While areas within the Bridge City limits will probably stay at an eight-feet elevation standard, Orange County will hold residents to nine feet, said Wesley Dishon with Bridge City’s Dishon Surveying Inc.

“If you are in Flood Zones ‘B’ or ‘C’ you can get your permit to rebuild, however, if you are in Flood Zone ‘A’ and do not meet the eight-feet elevation above mean sea level (Bridge City) or nine feet (Orange County) you must wait for FEMA to complete a substantial loss assessment and if the outcome of that leaves you with more than 50 percent damage, you basically will have three choices: raise the slab, relocate the structure, or possible demolition,” said Dishon, a licensed professional land surveyor with the state.

He added, however, that if you have a structurally sound slab, solid framing and a roof, you will likely not have 50 percent damage and if you do there is a 30,000 dollar incentive from FEMA to help elevate or relocate these homes. “FEMA regulations are black and white, if any certain municipality chooses not to comply, flood insurance for the whole community can be revoked. That is the last thing we want to happen. 

“Flood Zones are determined by detailed hydraulic analyses and topography. A Flood Zone is an area that has a 1 percent chance of flooding equal to or greater than the last flood. “Flood Zone ‘A’ is based on 100-year floods, which Ike was, so it is unlikely to see any rezoning. ”