Terrebonne Parish residents worry about flood insurance rates

Published: Jul. 24, 2013 at 2:27 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Terrebonne Parish, La. - A meeting in Terrebonne Parish Tuesday night to discuss the skyrocketing price of some flood insurance premiums drew a big crowd.

Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet is angry. "It's not playing fair with us. It's like changing the rules after playing with them for 50 years," Claudet said.

The parish president is upset about the Biggert Waters Act, a little known component of the Transportation Bill signed into law last year. The act essentially calls for flood maps to be redrawn and some areas once considered safe from flooding, are now deemed vulnerable. Claudet says in Terrebonne Parish, only Army Corps levees will be recognized. The shift causes flood insurance premiums on most properties to jump significantly…something many people don't know if they can afford.

Terrebonne Parish resident Essie Cavallier says, "If it goes up to high, I'm going to cancel my insurance. I'm going to live as is. If it floods, I'll move out."

According to Claudet, a number of the lawmakers who approved the bill, told him they didn't know the full extent of what they were signing…which is so hard for these residents to understand. Jason Bergeron says, "People aren't reading bills and people that we're electing aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing to make sure we're protected and that has to change."

Claudet says he's working hard to turn the new law around saying, "This law was written by people who do not understand either people, South Louisiana or business. I can promise you that."

If he's not successful, many of these folks seriously worry about what will happen to them, and the parish. Mark Spence says, "I think a lot of people especially along the bayou and lower areas are going to drop their insurance if they can and the community here is going to get smaller and smaller and everyone is going to start going their own way and we're going to lose our community."

The Biggert Waters Act not only affects Louisiana but the entire country. One example Claudet gave us of the jump in flood insurance prices is a home in Plaquemines Parish. Right now, the homeowner pays $633 dollars a year in flood insurance premiums. With this new act, he would be required to pay $28,000 a year.