Venetian Isles homeowners optimistic about flood insurance relie - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Venetian Isles homeowners optimistic about flood insurance relief

Updated:

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After a year of turmoil and uncertainty, thousands of homeowners concerned about massive flood insurance hikes are relieved.

A bill that would soften the impact of the Biggert-Waters Act is now headed for a Senate vote.

Two months ago, Dean Marullo thought he would lose his dream home.

"No one would have bought this house," he said.

Faced with insurance bills as high as $20,000 a year, Marullo fought back, determined to keep Venetian Isles out of the costly wave velocity zone while urging Congress to repeal flood insurance rate increases.

"We worked hard, and I would like to thank you for keeping this in the news," said Marullo, who mounted a letter-writing campaign that may have helped keep his neighborhood out of the higher-priced zone.

Now the U.S. House has approved the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which will limit future flood insurance increases to 15 percent a year whether the house changes owners or not.

"Last April we talked to several business leaders. One of them from Plaquemines Parish said it could leave our parish 80 percent uninsurable," said Berni.

The act will also protect homeowners from flood insurance increases that could result from changes in FEMA's base flood elevations. Latter and Blum Inc.'s Rick Haase says if the Senate approves the House-passed bill, about half a million Louisiana homeowners will get relief from often massive insurance rate increases.

"People who should be the happiest are those who were looking at that dramatic increase in their flood insurance premium," said Haase.

The move is also expected to boost real estate sales that were held up because of the Biggert-Waters Act. This process has taught those affected a lesson about the way bills are drafted.

"They had no clue what was in the bill - they don't read these bills," said Marullo.

Now all eyes are on the Senate.

"If it passes the Senate, it's understood the president will sign it into law," said Haase.

If all goes well, Marullo is confident he will be able to enjoy his home for many years to come.

"Oh man, it's wonderful," he said.

And he's hoping that predictions of quick Senate passage are accurate.

The Insurance Affordability Act will require FEMA to certify that its mapping process is up to new standards to make sure that base flood elevations are accurate.

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