Fight heats up against potential huge flood insurance rate hikes

Published: Aug. 9, 2013 at 1:42 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2013 at 2:02 AM CDT
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Local leaders say the flood insurance forecast -- with possible skyrocketing rates for people across our area -- will devastate some still hurting from Hurricane Isaac.

"They're still trying to get back into their homes and if they are forced to pay premiums that we predict will come about, they will not be back in their homes," said St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom.

However, area elected leaders say there is plenty of flood protection progress to show off and Thursday, they did just that -- taking FEMA officials on a tour of nine levee systems across Southeast Louisiana.

The tour included a stop in Golden Meadow to give a first-hand look at a floodgate on Bayou Lafourche.

The goal is to show off the advances, many of which have been paid for with local and state money.

"We're willing to help," Robottom said. "We're willing to do some things ourselves, but we cannot bore the cost of this entire program on our own and what has been passed will be detrimental to our communities."

The Biggert-Waters Act gave almost no credit to local efforts and members of the Louisiana delegation want to make sure the federal government pays attention.

Deputy FEMA Administrator David Miller acknowledged that much more work lies ahead.

"Right now, we don't even know how many people are really affected by all of that. We have some rough numbers about who gets grandfathered and what subsidies look like and how many policies we've sold in the area, but do we have a real kind of database that tells us where people are relative to their base flood elevation? The truth is, we really don't," he said.

Local leaders point out, the program's impact will stretch far beyond Louisiana's borders.

"Other areas of the country, they want it to be self-sufficient, so do we. They don't know what's coming. California doesn't know. New York and the rest of the country -- all states have flooding. We need to educate them to get on board to change this horrible law," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Miller said he understands Louisiana's case is unique.

"Relocation, here, isn't always a viable - more than likely isn't often - a viable option. These are people that have to live and work in their communities. There isn't a place to relocate to," he said.