Rep. Maxine Waters, one of the authors of the Biggert-Waters Act said that she never intended the bill to have such far-reaching and catastrophic consequences for residents who live outside federal levee protection, especially in South Louisiana. It actually seems that no one checked to see how the elimination of federal subsidies and the reorganization of the Flood Elevation Maps to redefine flood-prone areas would affect the “real-time” flood insurance rates.
As an example of such a serious oversight by members of Congress, one Plaquemines Parish resident who currently pays $638/year in flood insurance, according to the parameters of the new flood maps and non-existent subsidies, will now pay $28,000/year. That’s an almost 44% increase in the resident’s flood insurance rate, not to mention the price of a new car or a down payment on a new house. Oh, and even though the house is outside the federal levee system, it’s never been flooded – not in Hurricanes Isaac or Katrina.
With these statistics in hand, 14 parish leaders from Louisiana traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with the House Financial Services Committee and FEMA to “give them a head’s up” as to the real implications of the Biggert-Waters Act according to Jefferson Parish President John Young. In this meeting, Louisiana officials were informed by congressional and federal officials that they were completely unaware of THIS effect of the legislation.
“They were very surprised and shocked at the consequences,” Young said, adding the Louisiana officials were the first “to advise them of the unintended consequences. They really had no clue of the consequences of this legislation.”
Meanwhile, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu with the support of legislative officials from New York and New Jersey which were also enormously impacted by the Biggert-Waters Act is now on her second bill to get the flood insurances premium increases delayed until a solution can be found. Her first bill was blocked by Sen. Patrick Toomey from Pennsylvania because of other aspects of the bill not addressing the Biggert-Waters Act Amendment.