Protecting People, Property and Our Way of Life

Committee Formed to Address Flood Insurance Program

September 9, 2019
By: Halle Parker, HoumaToday.com

The state has formed a new subcommittee to craft a unified approach to addressing issues with the flood insurance, especially in coastal communities.

Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board chairman Chip Kline led the National Flood Insurance Program and Coastal Insurability subcommittee’s first meeting last week.

“This state relies heavily on the protections provided by the National Flood Insurance Program,” said Kline. “In the future, as the state becomes more exposed to flood risk, insurance will become even more important.”

At the first meeting, Rep. Jerome Zeringue, North Lafourche Levee District Director Dwayne Bourgeois, Greater New Orleans Inc. co-founder Caitlin Berni, Louisiana Office of Community Development Director Pat Forbes, Louisiana Department of Insurance Chief Deputy Nick Lorusso, Louisiana Department of Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness Deputy Director Casey Tingle and Bubrig Insurance Agency owner Bill Bubrig.

Each of the members is familiar with managing flood risk and efforts to reform the National Flood Insurance Program.

The group heard reports from state and federal agencies as well as the offices of some federal legislators on the current efforts to address issues with the flood insurance program.

Cindy O’Neal, with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, provided an overview of the number of policyholders in the state and how communities like Jefferson Parish are working toward lowering rates with different ordinances.

She pointed to the need for statewide policies to support communities requiring people to build at least one foot above what’s required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which controls the National Flood Insurance Program.

Forbes presented to the subcommittee about the state’s watershed initiative that will aim to take a regional approach to flood risk using new modeling to prioritize mitigation efforts. 

“The only way to be innovative and to improve how we were managing flood risk in the state was to start looking at watersheds,” said Forbes. “That water doesn’t observe jurisdictional boundaries and consequentially we are never going to be able to manage it by jurisdictional boundaries.”

They also heard from FEMA about its new mapping effort called FEMA Risk Rating 2.0 that would improve how it assigns flood risk.

Representatives from Rep. Garret Graves and Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office also provided summaries of the bills in each side of congress that aim to fix some aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program. The bills also provide for a reauthorization of the program for five years.

The subcommittee will continue to meet to establish principles on how the state views flood insurance and advocate for policies, according to Kline.

The nearly four hour meeting can be viewed on the Louisiana House of Representatives website.