LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — While the threat of rising stormwaters is present in our minds, there’s also the threat of 500,000 Louisiana citizens losing their flood insurance. In just 15 days, on September 30, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to expire. Senators Cassidy and Kennedy are co-sponsoring a bill to push that deadline to next year.
“Louisiana is the most dependent on the National Flood Insurance Program than any state in America,” explained Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelan.
Louisiana has collected $19B from the Nations Flood Insurance Program, billions more than any other state since its creation in 1968.
“It grew out of a hurricane named Betsy,” recalled Donelan. “After that event, the private insurers decided to exclude coverage for flood from their property insurance going forward, and they have ever since.”
The Louisiana Insurance Commissioner admits hundreds of thousands of homeowners could not live in parts of the state without it. That’s why extending NFIP is one of the top priorities for Senators Cassidy and Kennedy.
“We can’t allow the program to die,” urged Cassidy.
Kennedy said, “We’re not going to let it expire. We’re just not. I refuse.”
The senators say the National Flood Insurance Program has four goals: affordable premiums, accessibility to flood-prone areas, accountability to the taxpayer, and sustainability. Their bill has bipartisan support from coastal Democrat Bob Menendez of New Jersey, but land-locked congressmen need convincing.
“There’s those who would frankly want to kill the program as if the private market would step in and provide what NFIP does. That’s not going to happen,” Cassidy stated.
With days left to pass the bill and a looming downpour of Tropical System Nicholas in the state, senators are steering the ship to higher ground.
“We’re going to do everything we possibly can to get this extension passed, and I just don’t want people worried about it,” Kennedy concluded.
Senator Kennedy said he is working to fast-track this bill by skipping committee, and he’s already spoken to the White House about signing the bill.
Written by Neale Zeringue