Flood maps, federal legislation could have major local impact

By 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.