Lafourche, Terrebonne continue flood map fight - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Lafourche, Terrebonne continue flood map fight


New Orleans, La. - The levees protecting Terrebonne Parish get a little stronger every day, but FEMA didn't see that when the agency issued the parish's preliminary flood maps in 2008.

"They want a 30-foot levee so that they know that it's not going to be overtopped," says Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet. "They feel that even if you have a 10-, 12-, 15-foot levee that they should not have credit because if you have a bigger storm, it may overtop that."

The parish launched an appeal five years ago and now Claudet is helping lead the state's fight against flood insurance reforms.

Claudet and leaders from other coastal parishes met with the head of the National Flood Insurance Program and lawmakers last week.  He says many legislators had no idea how the Biggert-Waters Act would impact properties in flood zones.

"Most of them thought that it would be various simple monetary increases, which would be like, maybe $500 to $1500 a year," says Claudet. "Never did they believe that it would go from like $500 to $10,000, $20,000, even $30,000 premiums."

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) proposed an amendment last week that would delay rate increases for at least a year.

Claudet says it's not time to worry just yet. He says parishes will get credit for locally-built levees, though how much credit remains unknown.

Lafourche Parish has also been appealing its flood maps for years.

Administrator Archie Chaisson says several projects at Port Fourchon and the airport have been put on hold as companies watch what happens in Washington.

"We've seen a couple projects stalled... hopefully we can get this fixed in time to where those projects don't magically disappear and end up in another state or another parish further north," says Chaisson. "We've seen some concerns from the banking industry that have large amounts of money tied up in mortgages and they're worried what's going to happen if the mortgage industry in this area goes bust because of insurance premiums that our citizens can't afford."

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