The federal government's decision to re-map flood plains across the nation has received considerable outcry due to it suddenly forcing property values down and insurance rates up for flood insurance.
Through the efforts of Illinois senator Dick Durbin, FEMA is now offering a special discount plan for flood insurance for those that suddenly find their home or small business lies in a newly designated flood plain. The plan will allow two years of eligibility for the National Flood Insurance Programs "Preferred Risk Policy." The rates, which are estimated at a fourth or a fifth of the normal cost for flood insurance, which averages $1200 to $1500 a year for buildings in a flood plain. Larger companies, however, will not be eligible for the discount and will be forced to buy flood insurance on the open market.
Senator Durbin, in a recent statement said that the discount was "only a temporary solution." While the senator was pleased homeowners would be protected in the event of a flood, he said FEMA's long-term concern "is to bring the levees into a good state of repair."
FEMA's program to modernize flood maps has been a six year program to change the way responders deal with floods, largely as a response to harsh complaints about the way New Orleans levees were dealt with in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Surveyors have been digitizing all levee locations so that first responders can monitor levee strength in the event of flooding.
The survey has upset many who live in levee protected regions of rivers and tributaries in the MidWest, particularly the Mississippi River, who had been assured that their homes and business were safe from floods. New criteria has caused much of this land to be labeled as being in a flood plain; FEMA's threshold is whether a levee can handle a "100-year flood," which is classified as a amount of flooding that has a 1 percent or less chance of happening a year.