(KMOV) – Three metro-east counties are suing the federal government after the Federal Emergency Management Agency forced more than 150,000 property owners to buy flood insurance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is demanding insurance for property in a massive flood plain because it believes the levees on the Mississippi are “functionally useless,” even though the levees haven’t failed yet.
SIU professor, Nicholas Pinter, who has researched flooding on the Mississippi, says a major flood in the metro-east could make the area look like New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina.
According to the Corps of Engineers, the levees were built in the 1940s and 1950s. They say repeated floods have made the levees more vulnerable to break.
In response to the problem, FEMA decertified five metro-east levees claiming they failed to provide adequate protection for the 174 square mile area known as the American Bottom.
During the last three years, the Corps of Engineers has continued to study the levees. Right now, they are conducting an inspection of 755 miles of the levee system.
As a result of decertifying the levees, FEMA will require most property owners in the flood plain to get flood insurance, which could cost another $50 million a year. During the last few years, FEMA has decertified several hundred levees nationwide, but denies it's doing so just to collect insurance payments that will help reduce the national flood program's $17 billion debt.
FEMA plans to require flood insurance in the vulnerable metro-east area next year. The insurance will cost $1,000 a year for a $100,000 home, but some of the large industrial plants will reportedly spend $1,000,000 a year for flood insurance.