Flood Insurance Premiums

    If you have been following the recent flood insurance news, this update comes with a sigh of relief.  FEMA has rolled out a new mapping of floodplains throughout the US.  A bill was also passed to raise insurance premiums in 2012.  The remapping could require some to buy insurance where it was previously optional, and at higher rates.  Many have heard of doubling, or even tripling, insurance premiums.  Good news came last week when the Senate voted to delay these increases for four years.  Today we hear that President Obama has no intentions to veto the bill.

    To find out if you live in a floodplain go to PortlandMaps.com, type in an address and click the “search” button. When the description of your property comes up, float your cursor over the “Maps” tab and click on “Hazard” to see if your property is in or near a floodplain.  You can also call 503-823-6892 or view floodplain maps at the City of Portland Development Services Center, 1st Floor, 1900 SW 4th Avenue.

    Sen. Landrieu says President Obama commits to signing bill to delay flood insurance premium hikes

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    WASHINGTON — For about seven minutes Wednesday, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said she got President Barack Obama to engage on what she says are the unaffordable flood insurance premiums facing hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Louisiana and other states.

    Landrieu asked the president directly about legislation that passed the Senate last week 67-32 that would delay most of the premium increases for four years.

    “The bottom line,” Landrieu said, “is that he confirmed in front of all the Senate Democrats — all but one of whom voted for the legislation — that he would not veto the bill and that he understood how important it was to all of us to get it through.”

    The dialogue occurred during a meeting between Senate Democrats and the president at the annual Democratic retreat — this time at meeting rooms inside the Washington Nationals stadium.

    Landrieu said she’s paraphrasing, but the president understands why she and others in the room are so passionate about protecting homeowners from large premium increases. But she said the president also said it’s important to face reality about the growing threat of destructive storms, particularly along the coasts, some of it exacerbated by climate change.

    Landrieu said she told the president that she and other lawmakers are willing to work with him to make the flood insurance program more solvent. She has advocated for coastal restoration programs, funded in large part from off-shore royalty payments for oil and gas production and from Clean Water Act fines from the BP spill, to strengthen wetlands that provide natural barriers to flooding.

    But at the same time, Landrieu said, it’s unreasonable to impose unaffordable increases in premiums for people who have lived in the same communities for generations. Many need to live along the coast, she said, to do their jobs in the energy and fishing industries that are critical to the entire nation.

    Some homeowners receiving notices of big increases in premiums never filed a claim for flood damage.

    Landrieu also commented on the efforts — unsuccessful — over the last two days by House Democrats to force a House vote on the Senate legislation.

    “I appreciate that House Democrats clearly understand the urgency to act in order to provide relief to 5.6 million homeowners who are facing catastrophic rate hikes,” Landrieu said. “But I encourage Rep. (Maxine) Waters (D-Calif.) and Rep. (Michael) Grimm (R-N.Y.), the sponsors of the Senate delaying legislation in the House, to continue to work together and build the bipartisan coalition necessary to support the coalition-backed bill, which received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate last week.”

    “We welcome all reasonable and germane amendments that strengthen and improve the Senate bill, but there is a very short window to get this bill passed. Time is of the essence.”

    Both Landrieu and Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, her leading GOP opponent in the fall Senate race, said they are committed to working to provide relief from large premium increases and keep the issue out of politics as much as possible.

    On Wednesday night, Landrieu and other Senate Democrats were scheduled to hear former President Bill Clinton talk about how Democrats can retain the Senate majority in the 2014 elections and deal with attacks on their support for the Affordable Care Act.

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    Bruce Alpert is a Washington-based reporter for NOLA.com/Times-Picayune. He can be reached at balpert@nola.com

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