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Flood maps, federal legislation could have major local impact

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:18 PM

By John Guidroz / American Press

A Calcasieu Parish police juror said he is encouraged that state lawmakers are discussing the potential impact that federally approved legislation could have on property owners’ flood insurance premiums.

District 6 Police Juror Dennis Scott met last week with members of the Joint Insurance Committee to talk about the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. Scott, who serves as the parish’s coastal liaison, said the meeting was part of an effort by state and local lawmakers to make sure some homeowners won’t end up paying higher flood insurance premiums. Congress approved Biggert-Waters last year to extend the National Flood Insurance Program and improve its finances.

“It’s important for our state lawmakers to be engaged in this process,” Scott said Monday. “This is a people issue, not a party issue. It’s easy to see the problems with the (legislation).”

One problem, Scott said, is that Biggert-Waters “puts an unfair (financial) burden on land and business owners.”

“There are stories of people’s (insurance) going from $500 a month to thousands,” he said. “This reaches way beyond our Gulf coast. It is going to sneak to people who don’t think about flooding.”

Another concern, Scott said, is that an affordability study was not completed before Congress approved Biggert-Waters. He said that 40 percent of property owners nationwide who are in flood zones don’t pay flood insurance because their banks do not require it.

Scott said some parishes have approved a resolution asking President Barack Obama to delay the implementation of Biggert-Waters for four years. Calcasieu has not yet considered that resolution, he said.

“I’m up in the air,” Scott said of the resolution. “We could delay parts of it. I believe something has to be done about the National Flood Insurance Program.”

Scott said he would like to reevaluate Calcasieu’s flood maps that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved in 2011. He said that Cameron Parish spent $1 million to reevaluate its FEMA-approved map and found that 84 percent of the flood zones were inaccurate.

“We need to be more on the ground with people in local government when it comes to these maps,” he said.

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