Tens of thousands to benefit from new Jefferson Parish flood maps

ELMWOOD, LA (WVUE) - Tens of thousands of properties in Jefferson Parish are better off in terms of flood zones, thanks to the release of new flood maps. And some residents are anxious to learn if they qualify for better premiums.

"It's a great area, but the flood insurance is enough to kill you," said Jan Quatroy outside her home in Metairie.

She purchased it last summer and hopes the new flood maps will provide relief to her wallet.

"It's pretty overwhelming because it's so high. I wasn't anticipating. When I first started, it was a little over a thousand. Now it's $2,200," said Quatroy.

She may have a shot.

"The maps really start with ground elevation where is the ground surrounding your house and where is the ground in the street and how deep is the water going to get when FEMA does modeling," said Michelle Gonzales, Director of Jefferson Parish's Flood Plain Management Department.

She said thousands of properties are now better off as flood zones go.

"We have about 40,000 structures that are going to be moving from that higher risk A-E zone to a low-risk zone X," said Gonzales.

And she said there's another 40,000 properties with improved base flood elevation.

"Meaning that flood stage has decreased by a foot, or more," Gonzales continued.

As a result of the more favorable flood zones, many homeowners and businesses are getting letters from their mortgage companies alerting them that they no longer are required to carry flood coverage. But the parish would prefer people who have it keep it, and that many without flood insurance obtain it.

"Keep in mind that just because it's not required doesn't mean that it's not recommended," said Gonzales.

But the new maps are not benefiting everyone. Gonzales said some 5,000 properties are going from the preferred zone X to AE.

"If you fall into that category, FEMA does have a process, and it's called 'newly mapped procedures,'" she said.

It allows you to keep that zone X rate. You have to have flood insurance now, but you wouldn't have to go in with a really high cost premium. It's kind of this phasing in process, and so we certainly want individuals that fall into that category to take advantage of these newly mapped procedures, it's only eligible for a 12-month period," said Gonzales.

In all, she said some 88,000 properties in the parish are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.

"That would be about 78% of the houses in Jefferson Parish have flood insurance," said Gonzales.

But businesses are lagging in that area.

"A concerning number was only about 55 percent of our businesses are insured," added Gonzales.

She said people who feel the flood maps are giving them a raw deal can hire a land surveyor to get an elevation certificate.

"We talked to a lot of people that looked at that elevation certificate and it shows that their ground is actually higher than what the map showed and so we can turn in and assist them to do a map amendment," said Gonzales.

Quatroy says if her insurance agent does not have good news about her flood zone, she will take the next step.
"I'm going to have to get a flood elevation certificate and see if that helps any," she said.

To see flood maps, click here. http://www.jeffparish.net/index.aspx?page=3318

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