On Mardi Gras Day, March 4, 2014, the House of Representatives passed a bill to reform the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012.
Updates on the National Flood Insurance Program
Click here for a presentation on what the potential impact the Biggert-Waters Act will have on Homeowners.
During the first week of May, I traveled to Washington D.C. with several other parish presidents, representatives from around the state, and members of the Greater New Orleans Incorporated (GNO Inc.) Regional Economic Alliance, to meet with our congressional delegation. Our purpose was simple, to urge our delegation to devise and support legislation that will address imbalances within the Biggert-Waters Act Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.
As it currently stands, this act—designed to bring the National Flood Insurance Program into solvency—will raise the rates of current policyholders in special flood hazard areas to rates above and beyond the scope of affordability. Add to this that despite the fact that these homeowners built their homes in compliance with previous flood elevation maps; many are now facing new elevation rates because of remapping by FEMA, but their previous rates will not be grandfathered in under the new law. In time, the ripple effect of this new law will impact the housing market, the insurance market and eventually the overall economy of coastal regions such as ours.
As citizens of St. Tammany, the state of Louisiana and the United States of America, you can exercise your right to have your voice heard. You will find an appeal letter below, that you can copy and paste, and email to your Congressman. Together, our many voices will become one, as we urge Congress to address the insufficiencies in Biggert-Waters which will eventually affect us all.
Contact your Congressional Delegation (Form Letter) (.pdf)
Contact your Congressional Delegation (Form Letter) (.doc)
Update October 25, 2013
Senators introduce legislation to block flood insurance hikes for four years
Updated October 1, 2013
On Thursday, September 26, 2013, the state of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against FEMA to prevent flood insurance premium increases. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to find that FEMA was obligated to deliver an affordability study to Congress by this past April, and that it failed to do so. The suit asks the judge to block rate increases until FEMA has done everything the law requires.
NFIP Complaint (PDF)
Late this week, Congressman Rich Nugent of Florida introduced legislation to delay increases in flood insurance premium rates under the national flood insurance program until completion of the pending study regarding the affordability of such rates and congressional consideration of reforms to make such rates affordable. Congressman Nugent's statement on the legislation can be found here: http://nugent.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=700&Itemid=63.
The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the affordability of flood insurance on October 9, and GNO, Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht will testify on behalf of our the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CFSFI).
Updated September 24, 2013
On September 18, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the Biggert-Waters implementation. The need to reform Biggert-Waters came from Senators from New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Montana and North Dakota, and from both Democrats and Republicans. Administrator Fugate stated that he believes he has very little leeway within the law to delay premium increases administratively.
The House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on the subject on October 9, where GNO, Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht will testify on behalf of the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance (CSFI).
FEMA’s LAMP Guidelines were released today. For more information, please click here.
Click here for a helpful timeline of Biggert-Waters implementation.
If you are or you know of a property owner who will be affected by drastic rising flood insurance premiums and are willing to serve as an example, please contact GNO, Inc. at 504.527.6980.
Flood Insurance News Clips
FEMA or Congress, somebody do something about flood insurance rates: Editorial
The Times Picayune
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told a Senate committee Wednesday that massive increases in flood insurance rates are unfair to middle class and low-income homeowners. But he said he doesn't have a way to stop the increases under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed by Congress last year.
St. Petersburg mayor creates task force on rising flood insurance rates
Tampa Bay Times
With flood insurance premiums set to skyrocket in October, and little movement in Congress to forestall the increases, Mayor Bill Foster is assembling a task force to find ways to lessen the impact on residents. Owners of more than 33,000 homes in Pinellas County could see their premiums increase up to 25 percent annually, under a law Congress passed last year to shore up the country's debt-plagued flood insurance program.
Mississippi Insurance Chief Wants to Sue to Stop Flood Insurance Rate Hikes
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is prepared to sue the federal government to stop the flood insurance rate hikes triggered by a recent reform law, but it remains to be seen if he can move forward because the state’s attorney general has declined to represent him.
Saturday's letters: Flood insurance rates: too much, too fast
Tampa Bay Times
When we bought our home, we knew that due to the elevation and proximity to water we would need flood insurance. I can't argue that point. Look around Pinellas County and other areas of Florida: Many of us have the threat of flood without a beachfront view.
Flood insurance rates to rise 25 percent each year
Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says he feels for homeowners who have to pay rising flood insurance rates. Under the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act of 2012, rates will go up 25 percent annually for the next five years. Donelon's office is powerless to stop it.
Flood insurance changes raise concerns for coastal communities
The Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act raises premiums for flood insurance. Even though Congress passed the act as part of another bill last year, coastal communities are now uniting to fight it. More than five thousand buildings in New Hanover County will be affected by the act. The insurance rates will increase to twenty-five percent per year.
Do you have flood insurance?
The Emporia Gazette
The lack of flood insurance has surfaced as a major obstacle for homeowners whose houses were destroyed by flooding during the past week in Colorado. As a result, the majority of the victims will need to find other ways to finance rebuilding their homes.
Speaker Deleo asks FEMA for delay on new flood insurance rules
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay implementation of a federal flood insurance reform so that FEMA, Congress and local officials can restructure the program he warns will have a detrimental impact on coastal residents and businesses.
Parish President Pat Brister shares details on flood protection, insurance rates, and area construction: Shoreline
The Times Picayune
Shoreline residents packed the Tammany Yacht Club on Sept. 10 to hear Parish President Pat Brister address the Eden Isles Homeowners Association meeting. Brister addressed concerns including flood protection, insurance rates, and area construction projects.
Editorial: The threat of rising flood insurance costs
The MetroWest Daily News
Property owners in Massachusetts coastal communities are up in arms over revised flood insurance and maps that will raise their flood insurance rates as much as five-fold – and those living near rivers well inland may soon be. Thanks to Congress, flood insurance rates are rising faster than the rain-swollen rivers of the West.
Flood insurance costs will rise for Volusia, Flagler residents
The Daytona Beach News Journal
Property owners in Volusia and Flagler counties could be deluged with higher flood insurance premiums as part of a federal law that takes effect next month, a measure Governor Rick Scott says will “devastate parts of Florida’s real estate market.”
A special session focused on flood insurance?
Tampa Bay Times
State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, has sent the Secretary of State a letter formally requesting he poll legislators to determine if three fifths would agree to special section to call on Congress to enact a one-year moratorium on a new flood insurance law that stands to have dramatically increase insurance costs for thousands of Floridians, both on the coast and inland.
Foster on flood insurance rate hikes: 'We're Ground Zero'
Bay News 9
Thousands of residents in the Tampa Bay area are facing massive flood insurance rate hikes, and St. Petersburg’s Mayor is trying to prepare his city. A map released by the Pinellas County Property Appraiser tells the story. More than 33,000 homes are set to face dramatic flood insurance rate increases, and 15,000 of those are in St. Petersburg.
Flood insurance is an uncommon solution to a common problem in the United States
Live Insurance News
In the U.S., flood insurance is often a misunderstood issue. Many homeowners throughout the country live in regions that can be considered to be at high risk of flooding, either due to heavy rainfall or because of the region’s exposure to hurricanes. While homeowners in these regions of the country are exposed to flooding disasters, very few people actually have flood insurance protection.
City may help lower flood insurance rates
The Hoboken City Council unanimously passed an amendment Wednesday night that may be the first step toward lowering Hoboken residents’ rates with the National Flood Insurance Program. Since Hurricane Sandy last year, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has said that one of her highest priorities is finding ways to lower the rates of Hoboken residents, who currently pay about $6 million into the program annually, but saw little relief via the plan in Sandy’s wake.
Brandes calls for hearing on flood insurance rate hike, as local realtors raise concerns
Saint Peters Blog
Sen. Jeff Brandes is calling on the chair of the Banking and Insurance Committee to schedule a hearing to assess impending changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. In a Sept. 20 letter to Sen. David Simmons, Brandes warned that “Floridians across the state stand to be harmed by these changes.” He described the potential impact as “catastrophic.”
Letter: The flip side of the flood insurance story
St. Augustine Record
In the recent article, “Rate Hikes Threaten to Swamp Homeowners”, the other side of the story was left out. If I were a drunken driver who continued to wreck my car, should the government continue to pay my insurance premiums? For decades, those of us who do not live along the beach or in flood- prone zones have been paying for those who do.
One year after Biggert-Waters, reforms must be protected
Congress took important steps last year to address the long-term sustainability of the National Flood Insurance Program by passing the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which eliminates wasteful subsidies and moves flood insurance premiums to more closely match rates that are charged in the private market.
Challenging FEMA flood maps a burden
Jonathan Ginocchetti thought it was a joke when he went to the bank for a small business loan and learned he had to get flood insurance first. Although the Dallas Borough shoe store he has owned for 43 years and hopes to pass on to his children was never flooded, he was shocked to learn that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had determined half of his building is now in a flood risk zone.
Live in a flood zone? Expect higher insurance premiums
Any significant rain is a scary prospect for people living in flood zones, and it's about to get much more expensive to buy flood insurance. The only choice for most people is federal flood insurance from FEMA. Homeowner Amanda Brenneman just found out her premiums are going up – way up. She bought her house in December and she's proud that it has the original wooden floors from 1927.
Flood Insurance Costs Coming to a Head
The issue is that the Piper is about to play and no one wants to dance to the new tune. Back in 2012 Congress passed legislation that would have flood insurance premiums rise to reflect the true costs of covering losses due to flooding. The truth is the program has been subsidized by the Federal Government (citizens paying taxes) for many years.
Flood insurance rate hikes are imminent; legislation is stalled
Florida Keys News
Significant flood insurance rate increases are a week away and severe panic is beginning to set in, because the federal legislation to delay the increases has stalled. Florida's elected officials are scrambling to fend off the increase.
Heartbreak for some in Colo. with no flood policy
The Associated Press
Thousands of people who don't have flood insurance could face staggering costs to rebuild after last week's devastating floods in Colorado. And they may be dismayed to learn that aid from the government is limited, and focused primarily on getting them temporary help with renting a new place or paying for relatively minor repairs on their homes.
Experts tackle flood policies in public forum
A think tank session on how to prevent future flooding in Calgary has wrapped up with attendees feeling hopeful. The Forum for a Flood Free Calgary had feild experts present their ideas as well as take questions and ideas from the public. The event, hosted by the Calgary Leadership Forum, aims to combine the information from field experts and public feedback to create the best possible ideas for resiliency in Calgary.
NK Residents Living Near Water Told To 'Know Your Risk'
Elizabeth McNamara –
North Kingstown is uniquely situated, literally, when it comes to rising sea levels. With the village of Wickford right at the water's edge, it will feel the brunt of rising waters before just about every other town center in Rhode Island. That's one of the reasons the URI Coastal Resources Center/Rhode Island Sea Grant program approached in 2010 North Kingstown to be part of a pilot program on climate-change adaptation.
Flood insurance changes prove politically challenging
The Tampa Tribune
The crux of the issue is whether the National Flood Insurance Program can continue to support older, flood-prone homes without charging the exorbitant premiums that appear justified by their risk of catastrophe. Congressional leaders from Oregon to Florida are getting pushback from homeowners shocked to find their mandatory flood policies leaping to unaffordable levels without warning.
Fugate: FEMA has no authority to delay or lessen flood insurance rate increases
Fierce Homeland Security
The National Flood Insurance Program reform law passed into law last year doesn't give the federal government authority to delay or lessen rate increases, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate told a Sept. 19 Senate panel.
Flood insurance should be both sustainable and affordable
The Daily Comet
Coastal Louisiana residents are among hundreds of thousands across the U.S. who could soon be forced to pay exorbitant increases in the prices of their flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program is drowning in debt. In an ate
Flood rates rise as local leaders question NFIP structure
New Orleans City Business
Madisonville homeowners who bought last-resort flood insurance through the government were the only New Orleans-area residents to see annual rates decrease in July. The average annual cost for a National Flood Insurance Program policy continued to inch upward for the rest of the greater New Orleans region, with the largest month-to-month increases in Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. James parishes, according to updated policy statistics.
FEMA Chief Disappoints Senators, Says He Can’t Delay Flood Insurance Rates
Pressure continues to build in Congress to delay implementation of flood insurance reforms that are raising premiums for thousands of property owners across the country. But the man in charge of administering the program says he does not have the authority to delay implementation of the law or halt premium increases.
Updates on the FEMA Flood Mapping (DFIRM) Progress
DFIRM (Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps)
What’s the latest on the Parish’s new FEMA maps?
The Parish is in the process of resolving our appeals of the DFIRMs with FEMA.
St Tammany Parish Department of Engineering has recently received permission from FEMA to remodel the wave height portion of the flood maps. We will be using FEMA’s software called Wave Height Analysis for Flood Insurance Studies (WHAFIS).
The next milestone in the re-modeling process will provide FEMA with new data about topographic features that weaken surge and wind. We will be looking for information such as vegetation types and density, roads, levees, etc.
Our engineering inspectors and wetland specialists will document the necessary information along coastal areas so that the re-modeling will accurately reflect current conditions.
In addition to re-modeling the coastal issues, there are still two large, unresolved appeals: W-14 Canal and Pearl River Navigation Canal. The Parish will be submitting our updated models on these appeals to FEMA for their review.
FEMA has committed to apply “Seclusion” to certain levees as a Pilot Project (Kingspoint, Oak Harbor and Lakeshore Estates). The leveed areas will be placed on the Final DFIRMs at their current elevation, until Congress and FEMA publish an appropriate mapping guidance for uncertified levees.
AFTER THE APPEAL PROCESS IS COMPLETE:
Once St Tammany Parish’s appeals are resolved with FEMA (early to mid-2014), the following will occur:
FEMA would issue a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) with a final version of the DFIRMs
A 6-month compliance period would then commence before the maps become effective, and before they are used as the Parish and the municipalities’ compliance and enforcement tool
During the 6-month compliance period, the Parish Administration would draft a resolution and recommend to the Parish Council to adopt the DFIRMs
DFIRMS would become effective and used as the standard for flood plain management, development regulation, etc.
Where is my house on the new or old Flood Maps?
For residents who wish to get an idea about on their property, or other information on DFIRMs, the NFIP or FEMA Grants and Programs please visit the links below:
CONGRESSIONAL UPDATE July 22, 2013:
During the week of July 16 & 17, 2013, The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a one-year delay of implementation of Section 207 of Biggert-Waters. This language (attached) was included in the Homeland Security Appropriations legislation, led by Senator Landrieu, and matches the language passed by the House in early June. The measure now awaits consideration of the full Senate.
Louisiana's Congressional Delegation
Congressman Steve Scalise:
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu:
U.S. Senator David Vitter:
Congressman Rodney Alexander:
Congressman Charles Boustany, Jr., M.D.:
Congressman Bill Cassidy, M.D.:
Congressman John C. Fleming, M.D.:
Congressman Cedric Richmond:
IN THE NEWS