BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - FEMA has reversed its Thursday ruling that it will not sell or renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies until lawmakers can reach a compromise in Washington, D.C., as first reported by Politico and confirmed by the John Bel Edwards administration.
Now, flood insurance policies can be renewed or purchased, even though the government remains shut down.
Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy released statements Friday evening in response to FEMA’s decision.
The Rural Development Office remains closed, meaning people seeking to buy a home outside the Baton Rouge city limits who qualify for a rural development loan must wait for the shutdown to end. Essential Mortgage loan officer, Tracy West, said Friday she expects a backlog of applications made during the shutdown will build in Louisiana because the state has only one rural development office that approves those loans.
“If we get past two weeks, and I don’t expect it to go further than that, that’s when we have to come together and educate ourselves as agents so we can set the expectations for our clients and help them make good decisions,” Baton Rouge realtor, Trey Willard, said before FEMA changed its ruling. “It’s going to depend on how long they drag the shutdown out.”
Republicans and Democrats are divided over the president’s request for a $5 billion project to construct a wall along the Mexican border. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy said Thursday he is “not encouraged” by negotiations so far.
Nearly 40,000 flood insurance policies expire each month. Willard said he does not expect the shutdown to have a dramatic impact on the real estate market, noting, however, that some delays on housing agreements are likely.
“The problem with most real estate agents and most real estate professionals is they listen to a lot of the fear and they don’t focus on things that are real,” Willard said. “We felt things slow down, but not necessarily because of the shutdown. The holidays are just traditionally a slower time.”
Existing flood insurance policies were unaffected.