US Army Corps of Engineers
New Orleans District Website

Understanding Risk

Understanding Risk

Area residents should be reminded that the Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (HSDRRS) is in place to reduce risk, not to eliminate risk. There will always be a risk of storm damage. There is a risk of flooding every year from rainfall and storm surge. Everyone shares in the responsibility to "buy down" risk through zoning, building codes, insurance and other measures.

The level of risk reduction provided by HSDRRS structures remains static after they are constructed, but Louisiana is constantly losing land to subsidence, sea level rise, and erosion. These factors, along with a multitude of other variables, make it impossible Residual risk is the amount of risk remaining after hurricane protection is taken into account. There are things that can be done to reduce residual risk, such as:

  • Heeding evacuation orders
  • Restoring wetlands and barrier islands
  • Raising buildings and make them flood-proof
  • Relocating buildings to higher ground
  • Purchasing insurance
One of the outcomes from Hurricane Katrina is that Congress has directed the Corps of Engineers to assess and recommend a comprehensive plan for south Louisiana to address hurricane protection, flood control, and coastal restoration. This effort, known as Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR), will generate – per instructions from Congress – a decision framework for making risk-informed decisions. Decision frameworks serve business, social science, and medical communities as tools to organize and present data in a format useful for decision making.

History shows that storm and flood risks change over time. This is a result of changing weather patterns, land use patterns and/or performance of storm or flood protection projects. Over the course of a project’s life, conditions may differ from those anticipated during pre-project planning. LACPR’s Risk Informed Decision Framework is being developed to guide planning decisions by providing information to decision makers on a set of possible future conditions. Read more about the LACPR effort here.