Delegation in DC seeks relief from flood insurance hikes - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Delegation in DC seeks relief from flood insurance hikes

Updated:
An air boat speeds past debris and a flooded home along Louisiana Hwy 23 amid receding flood waters from Hurricane Isaac, near Port Sulphur, La., in Plaquemines Parish on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012. (AP Photo) An air boat speeds past debris and a flooded home along Louisiana Hwy 23 amid receding flood waters from Hurricane Isaac, near Port Sulphur, La., in Plaquemines Parish on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012. (AP Photo)
New Orleans, La. -

Hundreds of southeast Louisiana residents are hoping that a meeting in Washington, D.C. will help them keep their homes.

A delegation from 13 parishes traveled to the nation's capitol Tuesday in an effort to get relief from massive insurance hikes.  Later in the day, a U.S. senator offered possible relief.

New flood insurance rates could cost the Mechlers of Venetian Isles the home they've worked for their entire lives.

"I just made 64... they talk about your golden years, but these insurance hikes make things not too golden," said homeowner Harold Mechler.

They built their home 13 feet higher than the codes called for in the 1980's, and are still above new base flood elevations. But this retired New Orleans firefighter on a fixed income says he still faces flood insurance bills 10 times higher than what he currently pays.

"A lot of people are going to take a chance without insurance, and the ones with mortgages are going to lose their houses," said Mechler.

The Mechlers, and hundreds of residents like them across southeast Louisiana, are looking to Washington for help.  Michael Hecht with GNO, Inc. and elected officials from the 14 parishes flew to Washington Tuesday, meeting with FEMA officials and representatives of the National Flood Insurance Program, seeking that relief.

Officials with the NFIP say the increases are designed to help keep the program afloat.  It is now over $25 billion in debt, due in large part to payouts from Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.

To say the insurance increases could disrupt a lifestyle is putting it mildly. The Mechlers were hoping to watch their grandchildren grow up right across the Venetian Isles canal in their backyard.

Harold Mechler says his son will likely have to move. "He will lose his home. He can't afford those rates," he told FOX 8.

It's not just residents outside the new flood protection system who would pay the price.

"You've got real estate and banks that have portfolios that could go down to zero," said Hecht.

Without some type of assistance, the Mechlers and hundreds like them may head into the storm season without insurance to protect their home.

The Mechlers' home -- built 18 feet above sea level when many residents were still building at grade -- may be more vulnerable than ever, unless that trip to Washington makes a difference.

The new rates are expected to kick in next year, and will be phased in at the rate of 25-percent increases each year.

Tuesday afternoon, there was a ray of hope. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) filed an amendment to the Water Resource Development Act that would block the flood insurance rate increases until FEMA conducts an affordability study.

Powered by WorldNow

Fox 8 WVUE-TV
Louisiana Media Company, LLC.
1025 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway
New Orleans, LA 70125

General Number: (504) 486-6161
News Tips: (504) 483-1503
News Room Fax: (504) 483-1543

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVUE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
WVUE's Public Inspection File can now be accessed online. To access the online public inspection file click here: https://stations.fcc.gov/station-profile/wvue-dt.