Lawmakers hear emotional testimony on flood insurance rates - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Lawmakers hear emotional testimony on flood insurance rates

BATON ROUGE, La. - V.J. St. Pierre of St. Charles was one of nearly a dozen parish presidents who delivered emotional testimony to state lawmakers Wednesday.

"I had a lady, an 81-year-old, who said, 'Mr. St. Pierre, if I have to pay these rates, I will commit suicide,'" St. Pierre told the group of lawmakers who had gathered to hear about the major flood insurance increases and the impacts it will have on the people of Louisiana.

They were given examples of homeowners who originally built to code and have never flooded, but who will now have to pay more than $15,000 a year for insurance.

With the Federal Flood Insurance Program running close to $20 billion in the hole, the Biggert-Waters Act is supposed to keep the program alive, but the effects of the extreme rate hikes are already being felt.

"We were just starting to see new builds," said St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta. "The Biggert-Waters Act came out, and it has stopped. I don't know where to go from here. I really don't."

State and local leaders agree something needs to be done.

Lawmakers are now being encouraged to get involved in the fight for change by urging lawmakers in other states to pressure Congress to lower the skyrocketing rates.

The battle to amend the bill started back in May with a local delegation driving home the point that the Biggert-Waters Act will affect the entire country, not just Louisiana.

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