Insurance commissioner's lawsuit gives Waveland hope

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - A little more hope. That's the reaction in Waveland after Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney filed a lawsuit against FEMA to stop huge rate hikes in flood insurance.

Since almost every mile of Waveland is in a flood zone, leaders told WLOX News they need relief and they need it soon.

Cheryl Kring lives about a block from the beach in Waveland. She says at $3,000 a year she's at her limit of what she can afford to pay for flood insurance.

"We pay outrageous rates right here. And if they go up, how are people south of the railroad tracks going to be able to live down here? I mean, there are very few people now and we want to get the people back. There is no way. We're barely making it," said Kring.

City leaders say she's not alone, before FEMA re-mapped Waveland flood zones in 2009, only 30 percent of the residents in the city lived in a flood zone. Now 90 percent of the residents are in the flood zone.

"We can see costs going up dramatically," said Waveland Flood Plain Manager Mike Smith.

He said if the Biggert Waters Act is allowed to take effect Tuesday, many residents and business owners could see a 25 percent yearly increase in flood insurance rates over the next four years.

"If you let your policy lapse and you renew your policy, you're going to get the full 100 percent effect of the flood insurance reform act. If your home is a repetitive loss property, then you're going to go to the 100 percent rates as well. If you're a business and you receive a subsidy, the subsidy is going to go away," explained Smith.

He said the rate hikes will put the city's Katrina recovery efforts in reverse.

"I just think in the long run it's going to leave us a ghost town if it continues to be enacted," according to Smith.

He and others say they applaud the insurance commissioner's efforts for trying to stop the planned increases and hope his lawsuit can make a difference.

View the official complaint filed by Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney:

There are also efforts in Congress to delay the implementation of the rate hikes. But with so much attention focused on the budget and potential shutdown, it's unclear if there's any hope of action before Tuesday.

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