This article discusses a project by the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (CHART) at the University of New Orleans.
Three years after Hurricane Katrina, houses are still going up across the metropolitan area. And "up" doesn't mean new: It means, well, up.The sight of homes being raised 3 or 4 or even 10 or 12 feet above ground has become common. But what will this do to the local architectural landscape? What is the impact on neighborhoods? Individual blocks? And how high is too high?
Early on, Laska says, the group realized that elevation conversation can be complex. The earliest house-raisings post-Katrina often looked like structures on steroids. Laska refers to them as "flood rage houses" -- residences hoisted by people who said, succinctly, "Never again."
In fact, many homeowners lifted their foundations to the level of their Katrina watermarks. Which is actually not such a bad idea, Laska said.
"That kind of reaction is based on actual flood experience. It's a good barometer of what the highest potential flood level might be."
More recent elevations, however, tend to be less severe. "The elevated house has grown on us, and people are doing a better job at it, " Laska said.
It appears that individuals' psychological response to risks has followed patterns discussed previously in academic literature on risk and mitigation. Individuals appear to assign higher probabilities to these risks immediately after the event, thus overcompensating. These people may have raised their homes more because of this experience. As the event becomes more distant in individuals memories, they do not overcompensate as much. This poses the question, will we continue to see less and less mitigating behavior as Katrina becomes a more distant memory?
Here is a link to an interactive map of New Orleans.