Time for end to Biggert-Waters saga

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2014

Opponents of the Biggert-Waters Act, of which there are many in the region, gained another victory this week as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, announced it would delay increasing flood insurance rates for some until at least October 2015. This announcement came on the heels of a vote by the Senate to delay the legislation’s implementation for four years. That bill now waits for a vote in the House of Representatives, where a move to speed up that vote was defeated earlier this week.

The four-year delay is crucial to the very survival of some communities in the River Region. According to Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul Aucoin such a delay would effectively kill the legislation, which at this point seems the only viable option. The delay until October 2015 does not include homes that have changed ownership of that have flood insurance coverage that has lapsed, so the homes falling in this category are often unsellable because of sky-high flood insurance premiums. Not delaying the legislation would, in effect, doom these structures to a future of blight.

These coastal communities that fall outside of federal levee protection face enough

hurdles already with rising sea levels and subsidence. The implementation of Biggert-Waters could be the final nail in the coffin for them.

Why do our leaders in Washington seem so unwilling to start over? Obviously, this legislation is fundamentally flawed. This does not mean some sort of flood insurance reform is not warranted, but Biggert-Waters is a short-sighted and ham-handed approach to a problem that was not created by these homeowners, but one that the government feels should be borne by them.