FEMA said they were safe. And FEMA was wrong. In the Northshore, across the lake from New Orleans, many residents are asking the question, "We bought outside of the FEMA flood zone, so WHY do I have a foot of water in my house?" Good question. The answer is, because life isn't perfect, there are no guarantees, and Mother Nature will not be contained - only predicted, to a small, and very uncertain degree. But we live in Louisiana, and this is not the first, nor the last time that a "mean ol' river" has seen fit to dismantle our plans. We have survived before, and we will survive again.
This is not a time to think of leaving - any local ought to be able to tell you why - because, for all of it's faults, there is no other place in the entire world quite like South Eastern Louisiana - and St. Tammany Parish in particular. Where else can you go to find the most delicious food in the world, in great abundance, matched with some of the finest musicians, arts and culture, virtually everywhere you look?Just this weekend I stood center front stage, just feet from Cyril Neville and the Royal Southern Brotherhood playing their socks off - at a festival with outstanding food, drink and joyful, friendly people - in picture perfect weather...for $10. Nope - I'm staying put, and rebuilding, just like the rest of y'all.
But before you do - do yourself a favor. This was an historic flood. If the powers that be are to be believed, it doesn't get too much worse than this - so document the levels in your home and neighborhood.
If you didn't take on any water - prove that, and keep that documentation. Take pictures - lots of pictures. Show where the water was, and wasn't. If you do improvements for things such as, raising water heaters, raising your home....relocating essential services to higher ground - be sure to make a point of that. Tomorrow's real estate buyer is going to be asking questions. You need to be prepared to honestly give the answers of what did happen, what did not happen, and specifically what you have done to protect your investment, property and home in the wake of the flood.
Don't count on the market to remember - I predict for years to come, there will be notes in the private - or public remarks advertising the homes in the affected areas as "High and Dry" or "Never Flooded" - And practically nobody will remember where the water actually came to....or didn't. Also, be sure to get the proper permits, have work done in a quality of workmanship manner, and be specfic about the upgrades, methods and materials you have invested in. One day, a few years from now, having those records could make the difference between selling at a discount, and selling for the top price possible. Anytime you leave a question mark in a buyer's mind - remember this - that question mark translates to a dollar figure that the buyer is not willing to part with in the bargain.
Take a moment now - let's get this right - so that if, and when it is time to move from your present home, you, and your Realtor will have the tools to make the most of your property's value and realize that highest price possible for you.