Teresa Secord recently learned the annual flood insurance on her North Side home could rise from about $540 to $1,440.

She got a letter soon after that, correcting the amount — to $3,678.

Her home at 428 Liberty St. has never flooded, never even had water in the basement, in the 17 years she has lived there, Secord said. It’s an expense she can’t afford, she said, and one that makes the house virtually unsellable.

With almost $4,000 tacked on to the annual cost, “who is going to buy it?” Secord said Friday. The sale of a neighboring property fell through, she said, when the prospective buyer was quoted a $4,500 price for flood insurance.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind visited the home Friday to highlight his support for federal legislation that would roll back some of the major rate increases seen in federal flood insurance.

Kind called on the Senate to quickly act on the bill, which passed the House late Tuesday with broad bipartisan support.

It would basically repeal the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, intended at the time to reduce property owners’ reliance on the subsidized insurance and address a $24 billion deficit in the National Flood Insurance Program in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and Katrina.

But Kind said that measure primarily was aimed at coastal states where the flood risk is more sudden and severe, not the more gradual flooding seen along the Upper Mississippi River. Flood claims here never reach the levels of a hurricane-hit area, Kind said.

The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will allow sellers to transfer their subsidized, below-market flood insurance rates to new buyers and caps annual premium increases at 15 to 18 percent. It also will provide a refund to those who already paid the higher costs.

With about 800 flood insurance policies — second only to Green Bay among Wisconsin municipalities — and about 1,800 to 2,000 La Crosse properties now in the flood plain, the effects here will be severe if the new bill doesn’t go through, said Doug Kerns, the city’s flood plain coordinator.

This legislation, Kerns and Kind said, would give the city time to work with FEMA on flood maps that truly reflect the actual risk here and keep insurance affordable.

“I think we need to take a more balanced approach,” Kind said.

Ken Van Doren, a retired building contractor and former Mauston City Council member who is running as a Republican against Kind, said Friday he doesn’t support continuing the subsidy or flood insurance program.

“I like the idea that the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act will not raise the federal deficit,” Van Doren wrote in an email. “However, since the National Flood Insurance program is not constitutionally authorized, I would prefer to eliminate it altogether. Also, in a free market, there would be no government subsidies that transfer some of the risk from homeowners and insurance companies to U.S. taxpayers.”

(13) comments

TotemPole

sorry, Mr city inspector, i can't afford to fix up my property. i need that money for my $300+ a month flood insurance. there's a five million dollar mansion in Florida that gets washed away every five years and rebuilt in the same spot. my basement has been dry for 100 years, but it's the least i can do.

TotemPole

if this doesn't go through, the bank's will own half the north side. on a bright note, it will create plenty of vacant buildings for meth labs.

taxpayr

Kind is an idiot.

KJ

Our congressman is very hypocritical. He says he does not support subsidies, then he says he does. Evidently when the subsidy personally affects him or his family, then he is ok with them. Besides that, this flood insurance issue was the result of some prior hurricanes which drained some insurance companies. We don't need a subsidy that primarily helps the home owners along our coasts. Areas where high income wage earners live and can afford the house they live in. This seems to only drive away competition in the insurance business by subsidizing the companies. We need better solutions that drive insurance competition, not protect the few that are in business.

Dagda

I'm a liberal, but I do not support citizens foisting their responsibilities on to others. Building in a flood-prone area is irresponsible; I shouldn't be responsible for your choices should you choose to assume that risk.

Frank Underwood

How in the world can you consider yourself a "liberal" with that sort of thinking? Liberals want everyone to pay for their poor decisions.

realtorick

The real fix would be for La Crosse to upgrade the diking system to FEMA standards and remove the North Side from the floodplain all together. I have told city officials this for years, and asked Mayor Kabat a year ago to put something on the fast track. This would be simular to the Pammel Creek project of the 1980's that took care of most of the southside. Time to do the favor for the northsiders NOW! The subsidy is still going away, just a little slower. That $3000 -5000 premium will still be the norm over a few years.

Years ago I went to a flood insurance committee meeting about this. It was explained that the complete diking solution had already been studied, and it can be done. I told them and the mayor to get on it! Now about 8 years later it has become a necessity. Even if the assembly bill passes the Flood Insurance Rates will go up 15% a year until the non subsidized rates are in place. The north side homes values in the flood plain will still be hurt badly.

random annoying bozo
random annoying bozo

how about government get out of the property insurance business entirely?

presently, yes there are flood insurance premium hikes, but if there is a flood, guess who pays the bill.....flood insurance is a subsidized property insurance program, with a more or less 'one size fits all' premium structure, with no adjustment for risk caused by proximity of property to water, or elevation of property above water levels.

and ronnie kind? he is doing what he does best, pandering for votes....it's an election year after all, and that usually means ronnie, and all the other empty suit politicians, will be out lieing to you straight in the eye, and telling you how good they will be, or are for you, and how they are about you...then once elected, they will go back to their old ways, voting however their respective parties tell them to vote.

Tim Russell
Tim Russell

Government has every right to protect it's constituents from financial disaster. They do it all of the time for businesses. Landlords use the legal system (which is paid for by the taxpayers) to avoid the same thing.
It's ludicrous to believe that government should only provide such protection to businesses. That's kind of like believing businesses have the right to discriminate against some minority they don't like due to racism..

random annoying bozo
random annoying bozo

ummmm, I thought the article was about flood insurance timmy....but apparently in your clouded haze it's about racism and landlords and businesses, oh my?

sorry timmy, but your 'posts' are growing more and more irrelevant everyday....and I know people like you hate to be irrelevant, but your way, way, way past the point of ever getting back to any relevancy ever again in your lifetime.

capedcrusader

Frank, you sound like you wouldn't be happy no matter what Kind did. You fight the battles you can win. Be happy he's fighting one for you.

Frank Underwood

I just like to point out hypocrisy and corruption. I would rather Kind pass legislation to get the federal government OUT of the insurance business.

Frank Underwood

The nearly $3,000.00 annual property tax bill on Ms. Secord's $88K home is the emergency here.

The federal government IS the problem in this situation with their FEMA maps.

Also, I wonder if Kind would be doing this if both he and his mother didn't have property right ON the water in the town of Campbell.

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