New base flood elevations decrease could mean flood insurance savings

Feb 1st, 2013 | By | Category: News

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program [NFIP] maps recently published on the NFIP website,, indicate that those within the levee system in St. Bernard Parish could have lower base flood elevations and consequently save on flood insurance premiums, should the parish choose to adopt
the maps.

The parish will conduct a public meeting in coming weeks where maps will be open for public review. The meeting was initially scheduled for February 28 but SBPG says it will be rescheduled for a later date. Following that, FEMA is holding a 90-day public comment and appeals period where residents can present their grievances with specific locations. After that 90-day period, the parish has six months to approve the maps and adopt their standards.

The new NFIP maps come in the wake of the passage of the Biggert-Waters Act, signed into law July of 2012. The passage of the act re-established the NFIP until September of 2017, as there were several
lapses in the past few years which caused instability in the real estate market.

With that re-establishment comes major reform, including the elimination of subsidized and grandfathered rates on properties; the revision of rates in Special Flood Hazard Areas (coastal floodplains, flood plains along major rivers, and areas subject to flooding from water collection in a low lying area) over a five-year
period to reflect full flood risks, among other changes.

FEMA released preliminary Digital

Flood Insurance Rate Maps [DFIRMs] in 2008, but the parish did not adopt the maps because the levees had yet to be certified. Additionally, the data used to create the maps was from a 1984 study, so officials are looking forward to having a more precise understanding of their actual risk. In November of 2012, FEMA
released updated DFIRMs that indicate flood risk based on the new, certified Hurricane Risk Reduction System.

St. Bernard Parish Chief Administrative Officer Jerry Graves Jr. says parish government is “cautiously excited” about the new maps.

“The maps haven’t been updated since 1984, so this gives us a much more realistic outlook at what we need to be building to,” said Graves. “The elevation requirements in a lot of areas are going down, which is good for us in terms of insurance.”

However it is not good news for everyone: the area outside of the Hurricane Risk Reduction System— Hopedale, Delacroix, Shell Beach, Yscolskey and Reggio— could be required to elevate from the existing level of 13 feet to 19 feet, according to the new DFIRM maps.

Immediate changes to the NFIP
• January 1, 2013 premium rates for subsidized non-primary residences (vacation homes, fishing camps, etc.) began increasing, and will increase 25 percent per year until the full risk rate is reflected.

•Subsidies for businesses, properties that have had four losses (of $5000 or more for each loss ) will be eliminated later in 2013

•Subsidies for any property that has had two or more losses that exceed fair market value will be eliminated later in 2013

•Rates for these additional categories of properties will phase in at a rate of 25 percent per year until they reflect full risk rates.

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