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U.S. Senate Delay on Flood Insurance is Good News for Some Gulf Coast Residents

By Evelina Burnett | Published 19 Jul 2013 03:55pm | comments

The U.S. Senate appropriations committee has approved a measure that would delay flood insurance rate hikes for one year. Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program were intended to make it fiscally sound, but, residents on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are worried that some properties will be hit with huge rate increases.

 The Blind Tiger restaurant is busy serving lunch. The beachfront Bay St. Louis eatery opened in May. Owner Thomas Genin, like others on the coast, worries that coming changes to the national flood insurance program could stifle  future development.

"It'll concern a lot of people, money's hard to get, banks really aren't lending and loaning money, and so I don't know it it'll stop development but it'll definitely cause some people to back away from the table," said Genin.

The Gulfport city council this week approved a resolution urging Mississippi’s Congressional delegation to push for a delay to flood insurance rate increases. Councilman Rusty Walker says they want Congress to further study the impact of planned changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.  He notes that shoreline communities contributed $6.6 trillion to U.S. GDP in 2011.

"Fifty states have National Flood Insurance Programs and as they're remapped, itsgoing to become more difficult for them to do business, if you affect that business by only half on one percent, then over 10 years, you have 300 billion dollars worth of loss, isn't that kind of a joke when you're only trying to cover a 23 billion dollar loan right now," said Walker.      

Walker says his two main concerns are inconsistent flood-elevation maps and the removal of grandfathering for some properties.

"When a homeowner or business or whoever builds at the elevation that FEMA sets, they should not be penalized in the flood insurance program later, should FEMA change their mind on what it should be," continued Walker.  

Mississippi Senior Senator Thad Cochran is a member of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee. He says a one-year delay would give communities more time to plan for and mitigate rate changes.

The flood insurance-delay measure is expected to go before the full Senate later this year. A similar provision has passed the House. 





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