(WVLA) (WGMB) – U.S. House members this week are introducing a five-year plan to keep the National Flood Insurance Program afloat.
More than half a million Louisianans hold policies through the NFIP, which helps cushion property values in low-lying zones. The current version of the program is set to expire in September, following 10 previous short-term extensions since 2017.
Louisiana’s residents and business owners consider the program a lifeline, though they worry about affordability, flood assessment accuracy and whether federal officials are doing enough to mitigate future flood threats.
“The largest hurdle that everybody’s had to deal with is the bureaucracy of it all,” said Cavalier House Books owner John Cavalier, whose Livingston Parish home and book storage warehouse flooded in August 2016. “I would love for someone to get that all together for us, and put a nice little bow on it.”
Parish administrators say a five-year plan would offer them more consistent guidance from the federal government, should another flood happen.
“We want to partner with them, and we want to come up with something that everybody can live with,” Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks told BRProud.com. “These are real people and real problems that they have in the middle of a disaster. The people come first.”
Both U.S. senators from Louisiana have voiced similar concerns over federal flood insurance access, rules and costs.
“This proposal is a genuine effort to solve a serious problem, but it lacks reforms needed to ensure the program is sustainable and that families won’t be hit with drastic premium increases,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said in a statement.
“While I am happy that Congress is making progress towards a long-term reauthorization, Louisianans are all too familiar with the fear of unaffordable flood insurance premiums in a program they help financially support,” Sen. John Kennedy said. “We need reform to the program as well as long-term reauthorization.”