Locals react to delay in flood insurance rate hikes - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Locals react to delay in flood insurance rate hikes

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NEW ORLEANS, LA - President Obama signed a $1 trillion spending bill for the federal government Friday that includes a nearly one year delay in hefty flood insurance rate hikes for up to 400,000 Louisiana homeowners.

But some locals said it is only a first step, and Congress must do more to make sure flood insurance rates remain affordable.

People in LaPlace who suffered devastating flooding from Hurricane Isaac reacted to the delay Friday.

"It's got to be better than that, one year is good for now, but we need more," said homeowner Warren Mockbee.

He and his wife had to be rescued in a neighbor's boat during the Isaac flooding.

Chris Campana lost everything when Katrina's floodwaters raced into his home in Metairie, and he was hit again after moving to LaPlace.

He said the Biggert-Waters Act, which would cause flood insurance premiums to skyrocket, is a disaster in itself.

"You're taking money out of hardworking people's hands with something they can't control, instead of building levee systems and things like that which they do to protect everywhere else. It's the parishes like St. John and St. Charles that don't have that protection, and you're going to make us pay just about astronomical prices," Campana said.

Buddy Boe is Chief Administrative Officer for St. Charles Parish and applauds the amendment that Louisiana Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy got included in the spending bill, but he said more congressional action is needed.

"It by no means stops the fears in the real estate market. We've got about 8,500 - roughly 40 percent of the homes in St. Charles Parish are affected by Biggert-Waters, and so while they're not affected by a real flood, they are truly affected by this paper flood," he said.

Michael Hecht, CEO of GNO Inc., was at the forefront of building a national coalition to fight the Biggert-Waters Act. He was in Washington just days ago pushing for legislation to protect Louisiana homeowners from the higher rates.

"It's a positive step forward, and it builds momentum, and that's very important. At the same time, until we get to a full four-year delay and get the affordability study done first, we really haven't achieved our objective," Hecht said.

The hope is that Congress will pass legislation pushed by Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter.

"So that they're forced to do the calculations to make sure that these rates that they're desiring to implement are actually affordable and people can stay inside the program," said Boe.

"We're very, very pleased that this has been delayed. I think we need more time to craft a long term solution," said Parke Ellis, President of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana.

"We will fix this precisely because it's not a Louisiana issue, it's a national issue," said Hecht.

The bill signed by the president does not affect rates for vacation homes or businesses.

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