[StBernard] Times-Picayune Editorial: Help for Building Codes

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Mar 13 10:49:13 EDT 2007

Times-Picayune Editorial: Help for Building Codes

Periodically, the Louisiana Recovery Authority shares opinion pieces and news articles that focus on Louisiana's recovery from hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

EDITORIAL: Help for building codes
The Times-Picayune
March 10, 2007

Toughening the statewide building code was the right response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and lawmakers who now want to overturn or weaken it aren't putting the welfare of Louisiana residents first.

Stronger buildings are safer buildings, after all, and they are a far better risk for insurance companies. In fact, the code is critical to persuading leery companies to write policies here.

Fortunately, a $14 million federal grant program will help derail one of the favorite arguments against the tougher building code -- that it's too big a burden for local government.

The money will allow governments to seek reimbursement for training building inspectors and for some personnel costs at inspection offices. It also will pay for developing statewide inspection software and a windspeed map.

The state has already given local governments some help in meeting their new responsibilities. The Louisiana Recovery Authority provided $11 million to bolster inspections in the 11 parishes hardest hit by the 2005 storms. Another $8 million in state funding helped expand and create inspection offices.

Only seven parishes had code offices before the law took effect, and many rural parishes didn't require inspections for electrical, plumbing and structural work. While that was easier for local governments, it wasn't better for their constituents.

Louisianians need homes and buildings that can stand up to storms, and they also need insurance that they can afford. Keeping the stronger building code intact is the best way to get both.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses and inflicting about $25 billion in insured losses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.


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