St. Charles Herald-Guide

Bayou Gauche has been betrayed by government, resident says

Letters to the Editor - April 12, 2013

Dear Editor,

As a resident of Bayou Gauche, I am stunned and very angry that we have been betrayed by our government at all levels -local, state and especially the federal government!



While the parish has made every effort to make sure that the East Bank is protected and Hahnville, Luling and Boutte have protection in the works, Paradis, Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands have been the ugly stepchildren that are left to fend for themselves. Paul Hogan has made valiant efforts to get action on flood protection, but he is only one vote. So the three communities within the boundaries of the Sunset Drainage District are the "sacrificial lamb" that will be slaughtered by FEMA flood plain maps and insane and unaffordable flood insurance! While I am happy for the parts of the parish that have new flood protection, I have to wonder if we are ever going to get equal treatment regarding flood protection or anything else in our area.

When I started building my home in 1999, the most important thing was the FLOOD ZONE. The entire area was designated as an "X" zone (non-flood) in 1983. Flood insurance wasn’t required, but I took it anyway. I have paid flood insurance for 38 years without a single claim. The vast majority of my neighbors bought flood insurance as well. Yes, I know Katrina and Sandy and other hurricanes have been costly to the government, but I know of no private flood insurance companies. The government took on the responsibility and set up the NFIP. Now, 30 years later through the disastrous Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, FEMA decided to designate our entire area as an "AE" zone (FLOOD ZONE) and is shoving very unaffordable flood insurance rates down our throats!

Do they really think families can afford to pay up to $20,000 a year for flood insurance? Maybe if $700 million of federal Katrina money hadn’t been totally mishandled, there would be funds for flood protection. How much Katrina money did our area get?

The state received billions for the oil spill, but is anything available to help us? St. Charles has really nice government buildings, schools and playgrounds and always seems to have money for everything but flood protection for us - just repeated excuses. I know we got a token project through the building of nice large culverts on the canal in the middle of Bayou Gauche, but it is totally overgrown with vegetation and the parish has done nothing to clear it in spite of my requests. Drainage in the area is terrible at best, anyway. I guess we’ll see how well the new culverts work with the canal overgrown when we have another natural disaster.

If the entire area of the Sunset Drainage District, (which I understand is going to possibly become part of the Lafourche Parish project…as if they will care about St. Charles residents), is flooded, none of the nice government buildings, schools and playgrounds will matter to our residents.

So if flood insurance is mandatory and it costs up to $20,000 a year, how do our citizens survive? Most residents have a sizable house note, car notes, everyday living expenses, homeowner’s insurance, property tax (and many have children) so where do they get this "magic" money? From what I have read, places that make home loans will be fined $2,000 for each loan if they don’t require the homeowner to carry flood insurance. The result...deserted/foreclosed homes, homes that will be worth nothing and can’t be sold, lost population and jobs, closed businesses, lost tax base and "ghost town" communities. The economic impact would be horrendous.

When Congress passed this civil "ex-post-facto" (after the fact) Biggert-Waters Act of 2012, Congress must have listened to Nancy Pelosi when she said about Obama care, "We need to vote for it so we can find out what’s in it." This so called "fix the National Flood Insurance Program" ( by making it solvent after Katrina and Sandy) seems to be deliberately forcing people to drop flood insurance by making it so expensive that normal families can’t afford it. Either drop it or file for bankruptcy. I call the Act "ex-post-facto" because we bought homes under the law when were in an "X" zone at the time of purchase or building and then under another law made us an "AE" zone after the fact, thereby devaluing our homes and making them impossible to sell, placing an impossible financial burden on us and our families, and destroying the economic well-being of businesses and the community. We came in under one law and then the feds changed the rules in the middle of the game. FEMA wants to eliminate "grandfathering" so it can ruin us financially.

FEMA also refuses to recognize the levee under the Sunset Drainage District - to them, it doesn’t even exist. If that were true, what in the world has been holding back the water for well over a 100 years during repeated tropical storms and hurricanes during which Bayou Gauche has NEVER flooded according to developers and longtime residents!!!!

Solutions? Just refuse to be "blackmailed" (in my opinion) by FEMA by not buying flood insurance. Talk to your mortgage holder about it and see what they advise. Personally, I think a class-action lawsuit sounds appropriate (any good lawyers out there?). Write to every government official possible. Write Sen. Vitter, Sen. Landrieu and Cedric Richmond and call for the repeal or some no-nonsense amending of the crazy Biggert-Waters Act.

I know I’m not going anywhere!

The government’s role is to govern honestly for their constituents, not seek to DESTROY them and force this ridiculous re-distribution of our hard-earned money. As was stated during the American Revolution in regard to unity in defeating Great Britain, "Either we hang together, or we hang separately."

I think everyone knows who won the Revolution in spite of the impossible odds. We elect the politicians to represent us; so we need to make them accountable for this criminal injustice!!! The feds created this mess, so they need to fix it!! FEMA, if you can’t fix this self-created disaster….BUY US OUT!!!

Everyone affected by this situation needs to attend the big town hall meeting on April 15 at 6 p.m. at the Hahnville High School auditorium. We need a large number of citizens to attend to let them know that this mess is not acceptable. Remember, if these rates go into effect, it will be a very life-altering experience for a lot of people.

 

Frank Whiteside

Bayou Gauche