MS Insurance Commissioner to lobby Congress

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After dealing with record flooding, the state insurance commissioner Mike Chaney said Mississippians shouldn't have to worry if Congress will let the National Flood Insurance Program expire.

Chaney is joining commissioners from across the country asking that N.F.I.P. be extended for five years. Right now the program is set to end right in the middle of hurricane season. Chaney said people need to start buying flood insurance now.

As the Mississippi River overflow its banks, FEMA officials said every home and business owner in America should take heed of the devastation a major flood can cause then determine if their own risk makes it a good idea to buy flood insurance.

John LeBrune is a FEMA Mitigation Section Chief that said he strongly believes in the need for flood insurance.

"I can't speak the importance high enough of having flood insurance," said LeBrune. "The rates are tailored so the higher risked pay a little more and the lesser risked pay a little less. It's just all around a good investment."

Chaney said more Mississippians are buying flood insurance. Currently there are about 75,000 policies compared to the 18,000 before Hurricane Katrina.

"The real issue for us is trying to educate people in the flood prone areas of the state of Mississippi. Not just the Mississippi River, but the Gulf Coast to be cognizant of the fact that they may need flood insurance," Chaney said.

"I've been a staunch supporter of saying that you've got to have flood insurance or you can't buy insurance on the Gulf Coast if you live in the flood plain. I tell folks the same thing that live along the Mississippi Delta," Chaney said.

Chaney said the way Congress goes about renewing N.F.I.P. is not right and causes too much worry for Americans living in flood plains.

"I will be in Washington in the next two weeks meeting with Congressional delegations and the 50 commissioners from the various states," Chaney said.

"Our goal is to have a National Flood Insurance Program that lasts more than 60 days. It's a major, major problem for us here on Gulf Coast and on the river. If you do not have flood insurance and the program expires and hurricane season is coming or water is coming down the Mississippi River, you're in trouble," Chaney said.

Since flood insurance must be purchased at least 30 days before an event, Chaney said people without polices may have no way to get back what they lose to the rising water.

Chaney said flood insurance is inexpensive. However, to make it even more affordable he's also working with Senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran to develop a companion program to N.F.I.P. that would cost less.

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