TX Opinion - Coastal protection project bad for area residents
The municipalities represented by Velasco Drainage District in southern Brazoria County are in the direct crosshairs of a very expensive levee refurbishment project known as the Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay Program, or SG2. I would love the community to consider a call to action, namely: Please reach out to your state and federal representatives, Cody Vasut and Randy Weber, as soon as possible to discuss the concerns noted below.
In theory this project is a welcome move as strong levees promote the future sustainability of our area by protecting its infrastructure from damage caused by storm surge. However, the projected cost is over $700 million, of which the residents comprising the VDD tax base alone are expected to pay over $240 million.
Here is a quick summary of our major concerns:
If forced to pay the $240 million alone, Velasco Drainage District estimates it will need to triple or quadruple its property tax assessments over the next five years.
Flood insurance premiums are already scheduled to increase dramatically over the next five years due to FEMA’s implementation of “Risk Rating 2.0” in 2022, as well as the newly revised flood maps released in 2021.
It is not widely understood (yet) that most people living in Preferred Flood Zones (X Zones) in southern Brazoria County will see their flood insurance premiums triple or more over the next five years.
Flood insurance rates are currently set to rise by 18 percent per year until they reach National Flood Insurance Program’s target, which it calls the True Risk Rate.
For example, the maximum cost of a standard flood insurance policy in 2022 for a single-family home in the middle of Lake Jackson was only $685. In five years, those rates are expected to be closer to $1,700 to $2,200, depending on individual property characteristics.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, there is no current communication going on with FEMA to improve our flood insurance rates based upon the S2G levee improvements.
The Corps needs to work directly with FEMA to incorporate the data from the S2G Levee Project into our flood insurance rates.
Put another way, if we’re going to spend $700 million on improving our levees, we need to get something back in terms of cheaper flood insurance rates.
Finally, in its current form, the Freeport portion of the S2G project is primarily concerned with storm surge from the Gulf. The improvements do little to protect us from water inundation from the north.