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FEMA flood insurance rates

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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE 8 News) - There are some new developments involving FEMA's flood maps that determine how much money you pay for flood insurance. As Nolan Crane reports government leaders in Washington are trying to freeze home insurance rates that are on the verge of skyrocketing.

FEMA is looking at flood maps and levees in every parish across the state to determine if they are in good condition. Originally their maps were going to exclude levees. That could have resulted in massive insurance rate increases for many Louisiana landowners. Now employees at the Tensas Basin Levee District in Monroe say Ouachita Parish's flood zones will not change.

"We're lucky that all of our levees are currently accredited," said John Stringer.

Even with FEMA's possible mapping change many homeowners are worried their rates will still go up.

"I don't think they should raise insurance or raise rates, these things of that nature. If the house is flooding then you got to come in and take money out of your pocket to get the carpeting redone or have to retile your house, put new cupboards down, things of that nature" said Acabar Shakur.

The U.S. senate has passed a bill to freeze the flood insurance rates for four years. Congressman Vance McAllister has seen these maps and he says the bill needs to become a law.

"I don't think people really realize the impact it will have on Louisiana, more than any other state out there. It will cripple Louisiana like we have never seen before," said Vance McAllister.

"If they raise rates I'm leaving. I'm leaving, simple as that," said Shakur.

Acabar Shakur won't be alone in moving out of flood prone areas.

"The mayor of Grand Isles told me that he'd lose a lot of people in his little town because of that. Young people can't afford to take a mortgage out on a home there. They'll leave and go somewhere else," said Stringer.

McAllister say what's really needed is a bill that would freeze the rates for more than four years, but he says if this one passes it's at least a move in the right direction.

One of the reasons FEMA is looking to make the change is to off-set a $20 billion deficit though higher insurance rates.

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