Webster Parish Police Jury joins lawsuit against FEMA

By Paige Nash

Upon the recommendation of Webster Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson, the Webster Parish Police Jury (WPPJ) joined Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeff Landry in litigation against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to challenge the Risk Rating 2.0 program. This program will increase the flood insurance rates for people in the state of Louisiana.  

“We had to decide whether we were going to enter into this lawsuit against FEMA before this meeting,” said WPPJ President Jim Bonsall. “I entered us into this suit, and I am asking you to support me in this. It is going to hurt the people of Louisiana. Their flood insurance rates are going to skyrocket because of this FEMA action and the parishes of Louisiana have entered into a lawsuit against FEMA to try and get this reversed.” 

Landry along with many other parishes in the state announced this lawsuit earlier this month on June 1.  

The main cause of concern with this newly established Risk Rating 2.0 program has been the lack of transparency from FEMA on how they are calculating the new insurance rates and the factors driving the drastic increases. 

   According to Landry, for the past 52 years FEMA has based their insurance premiums on historical and identifiable data, but this new program has changed how they map areas and as a result making it difficult for homeowners in the state to afford their flood insurance.  

“Now placing Louisiana families on a path to foreclosure regardless of race or economic means, adding insult to injury, there’s no rhyme or reason for these changes,” said Landry. “90 percent of Louisiana ratepayers subject to an increase in their flood insurance premiums can expect to see their annual cost increase by 18 percent for the next ten years.” 

The lawsuit is made up of 112 pages and includes the support of 43 parishes, 12 levy boards and 10 states. 

According to the press release announcing the lawsuit being filed: 

“Joining the State of Louisiana in this litigation – being filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana – are the State of Florida, the State of Idaho, the State of Kentucky, the State of Mississippi, the State of Montana, the State of North Dakota, the State of South Carolina, the State of Texas, the State of Virginia, Acadia Parish, Ascension Parish, Assumption Parish, Avoyelles Parish, Bossier Parish, Caldwell Parish, Cameron Parish, Catahoula Parish, Claiborne Parish, Concordia Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Evangeline Parish, Franklin Parish, Grant Parish, Iberville Parish, Jackson Parish, Jefferson Parish, Jefferson Davis Parish, Lafayette Parish, Lafourche Parish, Livingston Parish, Madison Parish, Orleans Parish, Plaquemines Parish, St. Bernard Parish, St. Charles Parish, St. Helena Parish, St. James Parish, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Mary Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, Tensas Parish, Terrebonne Parish, Vermilion Parish, Vernon Parish, Washington Parish, Webster Parish, West Baton Rouge Parish, West Feliciana Parish, Winn Parish, Bossier Levee District, Fifth Louisiana Levee District, Grand Isle Independent Levee District, Lafourche Basin Levee District, North Lafourche Conservation Levee and Drainage District, Ponchartrain Levee District, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East, Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – West, South Lafourche Levee District, St. Mary Levee District, St. Tammany Levee District, East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1, City of New Iberia, Town of Jean Lafitte, Town of Grand Isle, and Association of Levee Boards of Louisiana.”