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NFIP and FEMA Flood Map Information

PLEASE NOTE: To read updates on Congressional and other action taken on this issue, see the media coverage page and/or the GNO Inc. Flood Insurance site. If you are part of a community or civic organization fighting flood insurance changes, please e-mail your information to rsimpson@stcharlesgov.net. Thank you!


OVERVIEW

The community of southern Louisiana supports a sustainable, fiscally responsible National Flood Insurance Program that protects the businesses and homeowners who built according to code and have followed all applicable laws. However, changes made to the NFIP in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 threaten to harm the very citizens the program was designed to protect.

Proposed changes to base flood elevations and flood zones contained in proposed FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), along with changes to the NFIP, have created conditions in which flood insurance rates will increase to actuarial costs over a period of five years after map adoption.

The West Bank of St. Charles Parish would be severely affected, with some flood policies reaching outrageous and unaffordable prices due to the combined impact of these changes. The release of this information has already negatively impacted the assessed value of affected homes and businesses, and many in St. Charles Parish fear having to walk away from their mortgages.

Many properties are being remapped into flood zones for the first time. FEMA will no longer recognize existing, functional levees and other flood control features and have presented maps that assume these features do not exist. Biggert-Waters effectively removes grandfathering of flood policies for properties built post-May 1983, meaning that homeowners will be paying these increased premiums regardless of the fact they built to elevation standards in effect at the time of construction.

To read more about this issue, see the links below and the Action Sheet. To view proposed FIRM information on your property, visit maps.riskmap6.com/LA/StCharles.


CURRENT CHALLENGES
Two major issues affecting the price of flood insurance are causing grave concern to particular areas in South Louisiana and across coastal and coastal and riverine areas across the country:
  1. Phase-Out of Grandfathering and Subsidized Rates: The Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, which reauthorized and made substantive changes to the NFIP, phases out grandfathering. That is, properties that were built in accordance with all FEMA required elevations and applicable codes at that time may now be considered out of compliance, through no fault of their own, due to new flood mapping. For example, a homeowner who built at the proper FEMA required elevation has found out their flood insurance will increase from $600 to $28,000 per year – effectively making their home uninsurable and worthless on the market.

  2. “All or Nothing” Protection – New FEMA maps, which outline base flood elevation changes, do not currently recognize protection offered by unaccredited (less than 100 year protection) levees, or other elements (e.g., pumps) at all. For example, if a levee only offers 50-year protection, the property protected by this levee is considered as having no protection.

POTENTIAL IMPACTS

  • Property assessments go to zero; parishes lose tax revenue
  • Home values go to zero; homeowners lose everything
  • Bank mortgages go into default; banks are left with worthless assets
  • The NFIP program itself goes into a “death spiral” as people leave the program
  • The communities and economies of southeast Louisiana – and all of coastal and riverine America – will be made unviable


POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

  • To reinstate grandfathering of properties (not policies) that were built to code, have maintained insurance, have not repeatedly flooded, etc.
  • FEMA can work with local stakeholders to continue to develop and refine maps to accurately reflect flood risk in each affected community by taking into account non-accredited levees and other features that afford flood protection


GENERAL FLOOD INSURANCE RATE INFORMATION

** Please note that the above links are for informational purposes only and may be subject to change at any time.

Last updated: 10/11/2013 4:32:35 PM