NEW ORLEANS -- Government and business leaders from 14 parishes across south Louisiana are in Washington D.C. right now to fight FEMA’s flood insurance rate maps and the flood insurance reform law enacted last July.
"If the maps get adopted like they are and no benefit comes to these residents, they're going to be seeing flood insurance rates go from $250 dollars a year to $10,000, $12,000 some of them are going to be paying up to $20,000 a year,” said St. Charles Councilman Paul Hogan. “That's unaffordable."
Hogan said FEMA's new flood insurance maps are likely to hit three communities the hardest: Bayou Gauche, Des Allemands and Paradis.
Amy Kanuppel, who has never flooded, fears it could be financially crippling.
"It would probably be looking between $15,000 to $20,000 a year. I have two locations. It’s kind of scary. You have a business and a home,” she said.
The new law aims to cut the government subsidy for flood insurance and make the program solvent. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said that could mean rate hikes of 15 to 20 percent a year for many in south Louisiana.
“It's devastating to so many places in Louisiana,” Landrieu said.
To stop that, at least temporarily, Landrieu has filed an amendment she wants tacked on to the water resources development act known as the WRDA bill.
“I hope my amendment will pass,” Landrieu said, “and we can stop these rate increases and go back to the drawing boards and figure out how to make the program solvent without putting the burden on the backs of families and businesses in our state.”
Without that, she said some people may lose the value of their homes. Even if current property owners are grandfathered to keep lower rates, the increases would hit when they try to sell.
“Which basically could render in some areas a home unsellable,” Landrieu said. “People are very concerned about this, as they should be.”
Landrieu stresses her amendment would provide a temporary break until a better long-term solution can be found.