Chaney on NFIP: Compromise today, fight later

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi state statute says that hunting and fishing camps are exempt from flood elevation requirements.  However, FEMA doesn't agree, and has threatened to kick Mississippi out of the National Flood Insurance Program.

"FEMA has put the state on notice that they would kick us out of the program unless we repeal a portion of the state statute," said Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

According the Chaney, Attorney General Jim Hood wishes to sue FEMA.  However, before residents lose $18 billion in coverage, Chaney has also asked that leaders agree to FEMA's terms.

"If you take the position that you want to sue- which we've asked him [Hood] to sue, but to change to the code also- you could put the state in peril for two to three years," said Chaney.  "I don't want the Gulf Coast to go through a Hurricane season without flood insurance."

Chaney says with the deadline fast approaching, now is a time for compromise.  He says that doesn't mean that state leaders won't take up the issue with FEMA at a later date.

"It's a hard pill for some of us to swallow that FEMA tells us what to do, but we must remember that FEMA was the agency that gave us $25 billion dollars to restore the gulf coast. We've got to listen to part of their concerns also," said Chaney.

Keeping the state in the NFIP isn't the only concern.

"If you live below the flood plain, there is a possibility that FEMA could say, 'Tear your house down and move.' And that's a concern I have with FEMA," said Chaney.

The insurance commissioner says state and national leaders must address one flooding problem at a time.

"I hope we nip it in the bud, and that we don't have to worry about changing statutory law, and once we get the law repealed we'll be back in the good graces of FEMA," said Chaney.

The deadline given to state officials by FEMA to repeal the statute is May 5, 2012.

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