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Livingston Parish council set to consider flood plan as FEMA threatens penalties

4 months 2 weeks 3 days ago Thursday, February 27 2020 Feb 27, 2020 February 27, 2020 9:35 PM February 27, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

LIVINGSTON PARISH - FEMA warns thousands may lose their flood insurance if parish officials keep failing to meet federal requirements.

A letter sent by FEMA to Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks' office this week says the parish may be suspended from the National Flood Insurance Program for its lack of a flood prevention master plan.

The parish has been on thin ice with the agency since the area was ravaged by the 2016 flood. FEMA criticized parish leadership for its response to the disaster in a 2019 audit. 

"My goal after this unprecedented disaster was to get our residents back in their homes as quickly as possible," a statement from Ricks said at the time. "In some instances, this 'citizens first' approach meant that not every rule was followed precisely in accordance with FEMA standards."

FEMA gave the parish months to come up with a comprehensive plan in case of another major flooding event. That deadline was extended after the parish missed it.

Parish officials say a master plan was drafted, and the parish council will soon vote on it. 

"FEMA is committed to assisting the parish and has given tools, templates, and staff time to help conduct the work," the agency said in its latest letter. "However, without substantive progress, we are concerned that the real repercussions of non-compliance may come into play."

Those repercussions include probation from the National Flood Insurance Program, which would add a $50 surcharge to all 17,127 policies in the parish and notify policyholders of the cause for the extra fee. Additional charges would be assessed annually if the parish continues to miss federal requirements. Beyond that, FEMA says it may suspend Livingston Parish from the program entirely, preventing anyone in the parish from buying flood insurance.

The suspension would also mean sites in the Special Flood Hazard Area would lose access to current grants including Individual Assistance for real and personal property, Public Assistance for permanent work, and Hazard Mitigation for flood events.

As of this week, FEMA says the parish still has not begun working with residents to determine their substantial damage status. 

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