2013-06-07 / Front Page

Flood Insurance Update

By Kevin Boyle

A FEMA spokesperson told The Wave on Thursday that “preliminary work maps” will be issued within the next “two weeks.” Although The Wave was initially told that the maps would be issued in mid-May it appears that behind the scenes haggling has caused some of the delay. According to a source, New York City has experts and scientists challenging FEMA findings and though all officials deny it, many speculate that politics is playing a big part in the delay.

Meanwhile, in Congress there has been movement to stop runaway flood insurance premiums. An amendment to a new Homeland Security appropriations bill passed which effectively blocks flood insurance rates from increasing. The vote in the House passed overwhelmingly, 281-146, and now moves on to the Senate.

The amendment was sponsored by three republicans, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, and Michael Grimm from New York (Staten Island). Cassidy said, “This amendment will block those rate increases and give us time to carefully modify the Biggert- Waters Act.” Area congressional reps, including Gregory Meeks, voted yes on the amendment.

Meanwhile, on the Senate side, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu who was frustrated by a rule that kept her amendment – which also called for a rate delay — from a vote is now holding up unrelated legislation and pledges to continue until her amendment gets voted on.

New York Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have supported Landrieu in her efforts.

No matter the outcome of these legislative battles, there now appears another line of attack for those fighting against skyrocketing premiums. In one report, Congressman Lynn Westmoreland – who voted against the amendment – said FEMA has already admitted that projected rate increases are inaccurate and can be changed by deliberations in the House. Such an admission is clearly a crucial piece of information. The Wave has asked FEMA and Westmoreland’s office for comment and await their replies.

According to a Congressional advisory letter we learned that FEMA flood maps have been challenged and altered as a result. Logic says that if the maps were inaccurate so too might be the insurance premiums FEMA has forecast.

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