Gulf of Mexico
A photo of New Orleans, La., on Sept. 14, 2005, two weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. FEMA/BOB MCMILLAN

Louisiana Braces for New National Flood Insurance Program Rules

As FEMA works out new NFIP rules, residents and officials look forward to more accurate mapping, but worry that the price of flood insurance for some property owners may significantly increase.

(TNS) — New flood insurance rules that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is writing for the National Flood Insurance Program have garnered praise and alarm from Louisiana interests monitoring the changes. While more accurate mapping of flood risk is welcome, the price of coverage for some property owners might well rise.

Much remains to be determined after FEMA announced Monday (March 18) it will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual properties, instead of to whether the property is inside or outside a much broader "100-year" flood plain. The new rules, not yet written, are to take effect in October 2020.

"The devil's in the details," Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer of GNO Inc., said Tuesday. The regional economic development group has taken a lead role in voicing the New Orleans area's interests as the flood insurance program has been scrutinized in Washington.

"On the one hand, more accurate mapping is a good thing and one we have been advocating for years," Hecht said. "On the other hand, it's critical that we understand how the risk is going to be calculated and how affordability is going to be preserved."

FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program underwrites almost all flood insurance in the United States, about 5 million policyholders. It's especially important in low-lying coastal states such as Louisiana, but major disasters over the past 14 years — Hurricane Katrina and the Louisiana Flood of 2016, among them — have driven the program into debt of more than $30 billion.

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