Preliminary FEMA flood maps worry home owners
BELLE CHASSE, LA – Homeowners in Plaquemines Parish are scrambling to calculate how to cope with potential skyrocketing flood insurance rates brought on by FEMA’s new preliminary flood maps.
FEMA personnel, along with flood insurance advisers and educators were in Plaquemines Parish Wednesday for the last of six open houses.
They showed homeowners how new flood maps compare to the old ones “Which are maps from 20 years ago,” says FEMA’s Jackie Chandler. “ So they are going to see what their most current flood risk is now and what that means to them and what they can do about it.”
Vietnam veteran Gerald Griffin and his wife Helen are at FEMA’s final open house to learn how new proposed flood maps impact them: “I don’t know what’s going to take place. We’re just going through the motions right now. Now they’re telling us our insurance is gonna go through the roof. So we don’t know exactly where we stand at right now.”
“It differs from homeowner to homeowner,” says Chandler. “Your most valuable resource in the parish is your parish flood plain administrator.”
The biggest question for neighbors here in Plaquemines Parish is will they be forced to sell their home because they can’t afford the new flood insurance rates?
Homeowner Cheryl Rau is faced with this dilemma.
“I pay $523 now,” Rau tells WGNO News. “It could possibly go up to $20,000. The mortgage companies better be mad because there will be a lot of us walking away from our property.”
As helpless as the Griffins say they feel right now, they’re standing their ground.
“My intention is I’m not going anywhere,” says Gerald. “I’m 67. I’m rooted. I’m not leaving from down here.”
Public comment, an appeals process and a compliance period must take place before new flood maps go into effect in five area parishes, which FEMA estimates will happen about a year from now.