Drastic flood insurance changes set for 2014Jan 29th, 2013 | By Jessica Gonzalez | Category: news
Due to legislation passed in July of 2012—the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act— there will be major changes coming to the National Flood Insurance Program in 2014, with changes for business owners coming into effect August of 2013: federal subsidized flood insurance will end, homeowners who rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina will no longer be grandfathered in, and premiums will be priced based on the damage history of a property, among other changes. All
in all, homeowners can expect to see an annual increase of at least 20 percent for the next five years.
The National Flood Insurance Program and FEMA conducted public meetings in Belle Chasse, Port Sulphur, Pointe-a-la-Hache and Buras discussing the Biggert- Waters Act and its effect on the future of Plaquemines Parish. FEMA’s new base-flood elevation
on the maps requires home and business owners outside of the 100-year protection system—south of the Oakville Flood Wall on the Westbank, and the entire Eastbank— to elevate between 16 and 21-feet, depending on the area, to avoid a massive rate hike.
At the January 24 council meeting in Pointe-a-la-Hache, the Plaquemines Parish Council and Parish President Billy Nungesser urged the public to get informed on the sweeping changes to flood insurance.
“My understanding, on the briefing I received, is that anyone building will have to build to the new elevations, if you’ve already built below those new flood elevations your rate will be unaffordable,” said Nungesser.
The parish must adopt FEMA’s new flood maps by 2014, or the entire parish will not be eligible for flood insurance or federal disaster assistance.
“Alternative? We don’t have an alternative right now,” said Councilchair Byron Marinovich, after a resident asked what the parish’s options were. “Our only choice right now is to not adopt FEMA’s flood maps, or the whole parish will not be
eligible for flood insurance or federal assistance.”
Speaking to the challenge of repeatedly getting federal disaster funding for such a small community, Nungesser said that going forward, he would like to see the parish put away $5 million per year into disaster fund, as a precaution for future storms.
“Had St. Charles Parish not been devastated we would have been writing the whole check for this storm [Hurricane Isaac],” said Nungesser. “For future disasters, if we don’t see a large metro area receive the same damage the numbers will not qualify us for state or federal help, that’s something we need to plan long term for.”
Marinovich stated that he and other councilmen were “going to Washington in the next week or two to talk to delegates about this.”
Councilman Burghart Turner stated that “we should not adopt or accept these maps at this time.” Marinovich agreed.
Those from the professional sector are just as worried about sweeping changes. Local insurance agent Bill Bubrig says that as he and other insurance professionals see it, the most trouble lies not only for those rebuilding but the other structures that were built years ago to the old standards.
“After looking at the DFIRMs [new FEMA flood maps], it looks like everything in South Plaquemines is in a DV zone, which means you have to elevate 16 feet up to be in compliance,” said Bubrig. “You can’t take every house down there and expect them to elevate; you’re talking about thousands of dollars.”