Editorial: Biggert-Waters could be disastrous for area

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


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


until some of the concerns about it could be addressed. Vitter has

also questioned the accuracy of some of FEMA’s new flood


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.

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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.