Louisiana Senators Want FEMA Administrator to Stay Until NFIP Rate Hikes Delayed

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outside the White House in 2011 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outside the White House in 2011 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Louisiana’s two senators are furthering their quest to forestall flood insurance rate increases by asking President Obama not to nominate the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator as Homeland Security secretary.

Sens. Mary Landrieu, D, and David Vitter, R, asked in a letter that Craig Fugate, FEMA administrator, stay in his current position until the agency somehow devises a scheme to delay the phase-in period of NFIP premium increases mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012.

Fugate is rumored to be the leading candidate to replace Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security secretary.

Louisiana congressional delegations are not the only ones seeking political cover from potential large rate increases mandated by the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012.

In a letter to the president, Landrieu and Vitter say they want Fugate stay where he is “to ensure that any personnel changes will not adversely affect National Flood Insurance Program policyholders struggling to understand the various changes impacting their insurance.

Landrieu says in the letter, “During the last several years, Craig Fugate has had a proven track record as an able and effective leader—any changes to senior leadership at FEMA right now must be carefully considered.

“FEMA needs to dedicate the resources necessary to complete the overdue affordability study, evaluate the concept of community based insurance policies, and update flood maps to ensure they accurately account for all unaccredited levees and flood control infrastructure,” she said.

State and federal legislators in New York city, and coastal areas of New York and New Jersey, and in coastal counties in Alabama are also reacting strongly as their constituents become aware of the rate hikes imposed by the 2012 law.

The law, which reauthorized the NFIP for five years, mandated many increases in flood-insurance rates to stabilize the program after more than five years of running in the red. Among the biggest changes is that, starting next year, flood-insurance rates for second homes, businesses and repetitive-loss properties be assessed on an actuarial basis phased in over four years.

The New York Times earlier this week said new flood-insurance maps for high-risk areas will soon be put in place, with rates climbing due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy. Some government officials and groups representing homeowners are working to prevent the higher premiums from taking effect, the NYT says, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing measures that would make flood insurance more available and affordable in New York.

The Mobile Press-Register says FEMA officials estimate that perhaps 4,000 residents of Alabama’s two coastal counties will be impacted.

The article quotes Gerry Springer, an agent with First Baldwin Insurance in Foley, Ala., as saying this may represent 90 percent of the entire coastal population. “Some [residents] contend the changes may upend entire communities, particularly affecting people who were planning to spend their retirement years on the beach,” the story notes.

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