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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Levee director explains impacts of flood insurance changes to local business group

Levee director explains impacts of flood insurance changes to local business group

HOUMA - North Lafourche Levee District Executive Director Dwayne Bourgeois warned members of the South Central Industrial Association of the devastating economic impacts of recent changes to the National Flood Insurance Program at the organization's luncheon January 21. 

"There is a lot at stake for our local community if the changes triggered by the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 are not fixed," Bourgeois said. "Workforce retention will be impossible without affordable housing, housing markets will be unstable or freeze altogether, banks will lose much of their mortgage portfolios, and businesses will face debt or closure from astronomical flood insurance premium increases."

As Bourgeois explained, drastic premium hikes are due to:

- A phase-out of grandfathering for properties built before flood maps were issued;

- Incomplete and inaccurate flood maps that fail to recognize the value of levees and drainage pumps; and

- Questionable calculations about flood risk and property value.

He cited astronomical insurance premium increases from around the country, totaling as much as 2,000 - 3,000 percent, as examples of what homeowners and business owners in Lafourche and Terrebonne could face if a long-term fix to the new rules is not implemented soon.

“It's a fight we cannot afford to lose,” Bourgeois said, quoting a remark by Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet.

Bourgeois and the NLLD, along with Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, Claudet, and levee district directors in the region have made resolving the flood insurance crisis top priority due to the significant impact our Bayou region faces without a fix.