Viewpoint: April 23, 2013

The National Flood Insurance Program is undergoing some big changes that could severely impact thousands here in south Louisiana. For decades, federal subsidies have made it possible for people living in high-risk areas to obtain relatively affordable flood insurance.

An act passed by Congress will change that starting next year. The goal is to make the program self-sustaining since it is now nearly $27 billion in debt ... largely thanks to hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy. In some cases, residents could see their flood insurance go up by thousands and thousands of dollars.

These are people who built homes based on required elevation in FEMA maps. But, hurricanes, coastal erosion, levee failures and levee placements have changed the risks. Some of these changes were caused by government action or inaction.

We urge Congress to delay the new flood insurance plan and work with south Louisiana officials to look for better ways to transition the program. It hardly seems fair to those who played by the rules building homes with the promise of affordable insurance to hastily make what could be a life-altering change.