Calcasieu Parish residents and business owners could end up paying higher flood insurance premiums because of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Monday, September 02, 2013 8:20 PM
It’s known as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. If it’s not halted or dramatically amended in the next few months, it will be known in south Louisiana and other flood-prone areas of the country by profanity-laced labels.
Calcasieu Parish police jurors got a briefing last week about the legislation from Byron Griffith of Dewberry, a Virginia-based consulting firm. They couldn’t have liked what they heard.
Griffith said Biggert-Waters, which intends to end federal subsidies for flood insurance, could affect as much as 40 percent of the parish. And he warned that business and home owners in flood-prone areas could see insurance premiums in excess of $20,000.
Such sticker shock is not exclusive to our neck of the woods. The New York Times reported recently that a homeowner in Queens, N.Y. who has paid as high as $458 annually for flood insurance see his premium rise between to as much as $15,000 annually.
That’s not an exception. It’s more the rule under Biggert-Waters for Americans whose property lies in a flood zone. And local, state and federal elected officials are getting an earful.
Even Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who helped author the 2012 flood insurance legislation, said it was never her intent to make flood insurance unaffordable.
Biggert-Waters was sold on the premise that the federal flood insurance program is $18 billion in the red. But Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, noted that the program has taken in $65.3 billion in premiums since 1978 and paid out $56.4 billion in claims.
Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have been calling for the Biggert-Waters’ implementation to be delayed.
Calling flood insurance a way to preserve coastal communities, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is pushing her Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program (SMART NFIP) to improve the Biggert-Waters Act and make it much more affordable.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., recently asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Obama administration, that if the president could delay implementation of some aspects of the Affordable Care Act, it could certainly delay the start of Biggert-Waters until some of the concerns about it could be addressed. Vitter has also questioned the accuracy of some of FEMA’s new flood maps.
Congressman Bill Cassidy, R-La., spearheaded an amendment to Homeland Security Appropriations legislation that was approved by the House, calling for relief from the looming skyrocketing of flood insurance premiums.
If there’s ever an issue that should unite Louisiana’s congressional delegation, it is the disastrous effect Biggert-Waters would have on business and home owners. Cassidy has already announced that he will run for Landrieu’s Senate seat next year.
The potential grief Biggert-Waters would bring to Louisiana residents far outweighs political ambition. All eight members of our state’s congressional delegation must speak with one, clear, unyielding voice on the issue.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Kilroy_Bukowski On: 10/21/2013
Title: scope of the issue
Splinte that sounds really good except I think it may be hard to fund 5 years of subsidies for addressing elevation issues over a 1 or 2 year period while still subsidizing the current premium as well. But that is a really good idea to work from. "Jammal" your republican blast on what you think a democrat named Jammall would say is extremely racist, small minded and provides zero value! You know it was an Illinois Republican that co-wrote this act right?
This B-W act has turned 2/3's of my companies assets toxic, I cant sell them, I cant insure them, my business is just shot. Entire neighborhoods will go empty as homeowners lose their homes due to mortgages that are 3-4 times higher with this new hike. After the inevitable foreclosures, Banks will eat the entirety of the loss of the enhancements on these lands as they are 100% toxic. I suspect the the number of families displaced will be in the 100's of thousands and since a lot of this is also waterfront and coastal property, the loss to Mortgage companies will be in the double digit billions which will fall back on Fannie/Freddie which means, aka, right back on the tax payer. So this means that this bill will probably cost us much more than it saves us and coastal economies will shoot directly back into recession if not depression.
Furthermore this act made it evident that the flood insurance companies have been raping our government/tax payer for decades. We the people are now paying what they were charging the government. My house with land and enhancements is valued at $75k, it hasnt flooded in the 30 years its been on this earth and I have never filed a claim on anything in my entire life... and "they" say my real risk premiums are $12k per year per recent quote (Flood only). I fixed a similar flooded home last year for about $20k. So if they are going to make us pay real risk it needs to be normal person real risk rate, not the "ridiculously excessive charge because its the government we are billing" rate.
Also FEMA clearly did not perform the economic-impact assessment they were supposed to do before this went live.
I would recommend they consider shelving this until they can find someway that it wont cost us more then it saves.
Posted By: Splinte On: 9/27/2013
Here is my solution to the problem. Supposedly the government was already subsidizing our flood insurance by 10K to 15K per year. Why not give 75% grants at a max of 50K per household to assist in the elevation of a persons home? Make the home owner responsible for the remaining 25% at a reasonable interest rate of 2% over a 20 or 30 year period. This would mean the government is only subsidizing the home for an additional 4 or 5 years with an immediate infusion of Grant money and the home owner has a 25% or greater steak in the improvement of their home. These homes would now be elevated to the appropriate flood level and future flood worries greatly diminished.
Posted By: Stephen Kondaks On: 9/5/2013
Title: Petion for reforming Biggerts Waters Act.
Here is a link to a petition to reform Biggerts Waters Act, from Brooklyn, NY. You all are welcome to sign.
We'll sign yours! Send it on!
and here is facebook SSAIL (Sandy Survivors for Affordable Flood Insurance Legislation) link:
Posted By: jammall On: 9/3/2013
Title: obama gonna save us all
obama gonna save us all ........he gonna save us just we have to pay alot of money to be saved......dont worry he gonna spend money in the best way to help us......obama a good man.......he a democrat so we know he good.......obama is there for us and i am glad he demorat so he can take car of us all with the new cell phones.......