Flooding in New Orleans, August 29, 2005. Federal officials have released updated flood maps for the New Orleans area. But they say some flood elevations may be changed once repairs and upgrades to the New Orleans levee system are complete.

Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi, Army News Service

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published new flood elevation maps for New Orleans on February 6. Maps of the flood plain are part of FEMA's responsibility under the National Flood Insurance Program, which requires homes to be located above the official Base Flood Elevation in order to be covered by Federally-backed flood insurance.

But the new elevations on this set of maps won't be applied to flood insurance requirements for now, according to this report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

They're only temporary, officials say — because when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes planned levee improvements (scheduled to occur by 2011), some flood risks will be removed or reduced in areas protected by the levees. For now, local governments are taking partial steps in response to the new maps. Jefferson Parish is going to modify elevation requirements in just some locations, reported the Times-Picayune; St. Charles and St. Bernard Parishes will probably leave things as they are. New Orleans and Plaquemines have yet to decide. Current flood insurance maps for the New Orleans area are posted online.