Staying afloat with flood insurance

Staying afloat with flood insurance

The sight of despairing residents surrendering their house keys to congressional representatives over ballooning flood insurance rates was powerful then and now.

It was 2012 when the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed with exploding rates that gripped residents of areas like Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands in a such a financial choke hold of “unaffordable and unsellable” with their homes that just they gave up.

The sight of those keys told the disheartening story of a people who saw no future in living where their families had lived for generations.

Then Parish President V.J. St. Pierre recounted that image in tears and particularly about how he wanted helping these people to be part of his legacy when he left office in January.

Parish officials intervened, rallying support from this same congressional delegation. St. Charles Parish became Ground Zero for a national movement aimed at reining in  the rates.They did it.

Known as the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, the measure reduced the rates but only really bought time.

Why these rates exploded for so many people throughout the U.S. was also disconcerting.

The mass destruction that came with “super storm” hurricanes Katrina and Sandy left a $24 billion debt in the insurance fund. FEMA had pushed Biggert-Waters to try to restore it, and now it appears the federal government wants out of the flood insurance business. It’s being passed on as new business for private insurers amid growing concern that coverage will be unaffordable and/or unavailable to areas that need that need it most.

Next year, the rates come up for reconsideration and worries loom large rates will skyrocket again.

In June, Buddy Boe, former St. Charles Parish chief administrative officer, returned these same house keys as a reminder rates will be reconsidered when the National Flood Insurance Program expires in 2017.

The growing number of “For Sale” signs in hard-hit areas also tells the story about how flood insurance is changing our world.


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