Friday, January 31, 2014
ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH - The U.S. Senate passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act in a 67-32 vote and urged the House to consider the legislation as soon as possible.
"Passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act by the Senate was a great victory for the Coalition and the country. This was a team effort that must now move to the House of Representatives for support," said Parish President Natalie Robottom.
When the Biggert-Waters Act was created, many in Congress were not aware of the challenges it would bring; however, this legislation will provide short-term relief and an opportunity to create a fiscally responsible flood insurance program.
The legislation will:
· Delay implementation of flood insurance rate increases and protects NFIP policyholders who have no annual cap on their rate increases and have seen their property values plummet as a direct result of Biggert-Waters. This includes all homes and businesses that were built to code and later remapped into a higher risk area and all properties that were built before flood maps were released which could see their rates skyrocket overnight when they try to sell their property.
· Provide targeted rate relief to these policyholders until FEMA certifies that their maps are accurate and reliable, and Congress has an opportunity to review and take action on the draft affordability framework FEMA will develop using the findings of the study mandated by Biggert-Waters.
· Provide funds to reimburse homeowners for successful map appeals: Allows FEMA to utilize NFIP to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination. FEMA currently has the authority to reimburse eligible expenses related to surveyors, engineers or similar services, but Congress has not appropriated funding for this account.
· Eliminate penalties on communities self-financing flood protection: FEMA’s AR and A99 flood zone categories provide more affordable flood insurance to qualifying communities in the process of levee construction, reconstruction, and improvements. Current regulations require a certain level of federal funding to qualify for either an A99 or an AR designation and prevent FEMA from giving communities fair credit for improvements made to existing flood control systems. Proactive communities that are actively investing in mitigation should not be penalized for self-financing flood protection projects.
· Protect the basement exception that allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates. This impacts 54 communities nation-wide where basements are necessary to protect homeowners and businesses from extreme weather.
· Establish a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process. The Rate Map Advocate will be responsible for educating policyholders about their individual flood risks, assisting property owners through the map appeals process, and improve outreach and coordination with local officials and community leaders.
Residents will be asked to call their Congressmen to request support for this bill when it is considered in the United States House of Representatives. Contact information for St. John the Baptist Parish Representatives is listed below:
5555 Hilton Avenue, Suite 100
Baton Rouge, LA 70808
Phone: (225) 929-7711
Fax: (225) 929-7688
2021 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 309
New Orleans, LA 70122
Phone: (504) 288-3777
Fax: (504) 288-4090