New Orleans focus of historic FEMA survey

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wwltv.com

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 23 at 10:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- It is being called the largest historic re-surveying effort in FEMA's history. Thousands of historic homes in Orleans Parish will soon be a part of a massive database.

"This double shotgun has a hipped roof, a construction date before 1890," said a team of surveyors spending the day in one Uptown neighborhood.

You've probably spotted groups of people in florescent vests across New Orleans. But they're not who you might think.

"We have to convince everyone that we're not the tax man," joked Katy Coyle with R. Christopher Goodwin & Associations, Inc.

Coyle is overseeing the contractors who are armed with clipboards, digital cameras and high-tech GPS systems.

"We have generally speaking between six and eight people in the field on any given day. That is three and four teams," Coyle said.

Those teams have been hired by FEMA to help survey 15 historic districts across Orleans Parish. In some neighborhoods, that might even mean your house.

"The surveyors will go property by property and literally fill out the form and record 40 different attributes for that specific structure. Locational information. We'll take photos. We'll do things like style of architecture, material, condition of the home," said Katherine Zeringue with FEMA.

With thousands of properties demolished and elevated across New Orleans by city and state programs, this is part of FEMA's federal obligation to not only rebuild but preserve the city's historic character.

FEMA says once all that surveying is done, 40,000 New Orleans homes will be in the database. Once complete, it will be searchable by state and local agencies.

Down the road, FEMA says you'll even get a chance to look up historic information about your house, block or community.

"So they have sort of a nice, neat little package and snapshot of what New Orleans historic neighborhoods look like and this point in time, particularly after hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav and Ike," said Zeringue.

FEMA began this project back in 2006. It is expected to wrap up by the end of this year.

 

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