BAYOU GAUCHE, La. – With thousands of families facing a spike in flood insurance rates thanks to FEMA’s new flood insurance rate maps, a St. Charles Parish official is taking matters into his own hands.
Ambitious and expected to cost about $10 million, St. Charles Parish Councilman Paul Hogan says whether or not FEMA recognizes the proposed upgrades won't matter. He said it'll mean added hurricane protection for homeowners in the area, which according to Hogan is priceless.
"My wife chose the house. I chose the golf course,” said Luling resident John Kreft.
John Kreft moved to this neighborhood four years ago after doing his homework. The Luling homeowner knew exactly how much he'd be shelling out for his mortgage, property taxes and flood insurance.
Now FEMA's new flood insurance rate maps and flood insurance reform law is leaving this family in limbo --- a spike in insurance rates could price the Kreft family out of their retirement home.
"When you buy a house and you open a business and you're playing by the rules, that's great,” Kreft said, “but when they change the rules of the game in the middle of the game, that's unacceptable."
Those sentiments are echoed by Nicole Dufrne. The Paradis homeowner says her flood insurance rates under the new federal guidelines are expected to jump from $300 per year to $9,000.
"I'm very concerned these outrageous prices for flood insurance for a small community,” Dufrne said. “I don't think anyone can afford it."
Dufrne and dozens of others attended a town hall meeting Tuesday night to learn more about St. Charles Parish Councilman Paul Hogan's plan.
Hogan's proposed ordinance calls for sealing off the Sunset Drainage District, which would give added hurricane protection to all 10,500 acres and fortify 13 miles of levee around the district.
Four projects totaling $10 million would have to be approved, and Hogan says the money already exists as part of a West Bank hurricane protection fund.
“If Congress doesn't fix the issues with affordability, then our only chance is getting the base flood elevation lowered, and without closing out this district, the chance of that is impossible,” Hogan said.
One St. Charles Parish homeowner says this is a step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done to fight mounting flood insurance rates that seem to be spiraling out of control.
"We need levees, we need federal funding, we need everybody on board, we need to go back to FEMA and really get it changed,” Dufrne said.
The St. Charles Parish Council is expected to vote on the proposed ordinance Monday, June 17 at 6 p.m. at the parish government building on River Road in Hahnville.