Jefferson Parish upset with new FEMA flood rates attend meeting


Posted on August 21, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 10:47 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

METAIRIE, La. -- Hundreds of Jefferson parish homeowners are now being told their homes are in "high-risk" flood areas.

Wednesday those concerned residents went looking for answers at an open house put on by parish officials and many got answers they did not like.

For over 47,000 residents in Jefferson Parish, the new flood maps are a good thing, but for 5,300 other homeowners the proposed changes will have a devastating impact.

"You have to pay the whole thing at once," said Donna Latiolais, who is concerned about how her retired, ill mother will be able to afford the new rates.

"You can't blame us for being upset. They sprung this on us all of a sudden," said Jefferson Parish resident Jackie Willig. She and her husband are also on a fixed income.

In November, those higher, up-front flood rates will be due. Meanwhile, homeowners will have to shell more money to pay for new elevation certificates.

It is all because the new flood maps proposed by FEMA are actually putting some Jefferson Parish residents into categories that were never considered flood zones before now.

"We have never flooded," said Willig. "I have never filed a claim in my life."

"Everybody is just going to end up leaving because they are not going to be able to afford to stay," said Latiolais.

Last month, FEMA opened the 90-day comment and appeals period for the proposed Jefferson Parish flood maps. Parish officials say that is why the parish is holding a series of open houses - so residents can submit their own appeals.

"We are going to make our case on behalf of the parish and we are going to make our case on behalf of citizens, but we need their cooperation as well," said Jefferson Parish President John Young.

Parish officials say, like the parish, residents must submit their own appeals by Sept. 30.

Young said it is all apart of the process -- a process the parish is working through diligently.

"We are working with those citizens to try and help them through the process. This is coming down from the federal government," said Young Wednesday.

Yet, for frustrated homeowners at Wednesday's open house, time seems to be running out.

Residents will have more opportunities to submit their appeals and comments to officials during the three other open houses scheduled throughout the month. Each open house will be open to citizens from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on each of the respective days.

Here is the schedule:

- Tuesday, Aug. 27 at West Bank Regional Library Meeting Room at 2751 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey

- Wednesday, Aug. 28 at West Jefferson Medical Center at Fonseca Auditorium at 1101 Medical Center Boulevard in Marrero

- Thursday, Aug. 29 at Little Farms Plaground, Room #1, at 10301 South Park in River Ridge