President Barack Obama signed the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act on Friday, March 21, and local politicians celebrated the triumph over rate hikes at the Bucktown Marina this morning. Senator Mary Landrieu, Congressperson Bill Cassidy, Greater New Orleans Inc. President Michael Hecht, and local parish presidents spoke near Lake Pontchartrain about the bipartisan effort to block Biggert-Waters.
In 2012, Biggert-Waters was enacted to cut back on debts incurred by the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance policy holders across the country, and 500,000 in Louisiana alone, would have seen rates skyrocket. The new provision caps premium increases at 15 percent, and reinstates grandfathered flood insurance rates for residents whose homes have become “higher-risk” since they originally purchased them.
While Landrieu said that Biggert-Waters was “not intended or drafted to be [a disaster], it would have done tremendous harm,” she said. Landrieu also said that the rate increases would have been “damaging and Draconian,” to coastal residents.
Currently vying for her Senate seat, Congressperson Bill Cassidy spoke following Landrieu, and the pair shook hands as he thanked Landrieu for her leadership. Cassidy called the signing of the Homeowner’s Flood Insurance Affordability Act a “triumph for representative government.”
Louisiana’s 14 parish presidents also helped push their constituents and federal politicians to back flood rate reform. St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said that 364 days ago, federal officials came to revise flood maps for Biggert-Waters.
“I stood and watched as residents left in tears, holding a paper that would put them out of their homes,” said St. Pierre.
St. John Parish President Natalie H. Robottom compared the financial effects of Biggert-Waters to a natural disaster. “We couldn’t allow Biggert-Waters to further decimate our communities,” she said.
GNO Inc. led the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance, a partnership of 250 organizations in 35 states. Hecht said that the act’s passage was a testament to Louisiana’s strength.
“When Louisiana leads, [she is] not a victim, but a problem solver,” said Hecht.
While the HOFIAA is a major milestone for coastal residents, Hecht reminds Louisianians to remain vigilant. “We have stabilized the patient, now it’s time to start rehabilitation.”