orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Local News

December 11, 2013

County, cities join Bridge City in appealing flood maps

ORANGE — Government officials are fighting back.

Orange County, the cities of Orange and West Orange have followed Bridge City on appealing the National Flood Insurance Program Rate Map created by FEMA.

The county opted to take no action on hiring Lonnie G. Harper and Associates at this time but are willing to file the appeal.

Mayor Kirk Roccaforte of Bridge City said the company has asked for information for the county so much will not have to be duplicated as they already have the information.

West Orange Mayor Roy McDonald said the city had exhausted all other options.

“We won’t win if we are not in the fight,” McDonald said. “Stockman tried helping.”

In a letter from Congressman Stockman to Mayor McDonald, Stockman wrote on September 19 he introduced H.R. 3156. The Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act which makes several reforms to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012. The Act will not pass prior to the deadline,

The appeal must be filed by Tuesday, Dec. 24.

West Orange Fire Marshall/Building Inspector Dean Fuller said the new maps would go into affect immediately.

“This will hurt a lot of people,” Fuller said.

West Orange Chief of Police Michael Stelly said he could not see how the city could not contest the maps.

“The more entities involved,” Stelly said. “The lower the cost.”

The total cost to all the entities is $85,000.

“After the December deadline, it’s a done deal,” Orange Mayor Jimmy Sims said. “We don’t want people walking out of homes they cannot afford.”

Orange City Manager Shawn Oubre said the flood maps and flood elevations will affect rates for the nationally backed flood insurance plan.

“The insurance program is in a deficit,” Oubre said. “Hurricane Sandy kept it in a deficit.”

Oubre said an area of Orange shown as a flood zone in the new maps has a high level of houses located in the area.

“This is get the appeal started,” Oubre said during the Orange City Council meeting Tuesday morning.

Oubre said the city could do a cost analysis after agreeing to entering the appeal process.

“With the new maps, there is not a grandfather clause” Oubre said. “The maps could affect the ad valorem tax rate and growth of the city.”

The new flood rate maps place approximately 80 percent of Bridge City within flood zones and will greatly impact residents with higher flood insurance rates. Extremely high flood insurance rates could stunt business growth and increased population in this community.

In July 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, often referred to as BW-12, which calls on the FEMA, and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run, according to FEMA.gov.

Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some—but not all—policyholders over time.

The City of Vidor has already added the topic to the next scheduled council meeting on Thursday.

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