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FEMA delays new flood insurance maps

By Bill Raack, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – Metro East homeowners and businesses worried about the prospect of higher flood insurance rates are getting a temporary reprieve from the federal government.

New flood insurance maps were set to be released this summer for the bi-state region, including Madison, St. Clair and Monroe Counties. That prospect worried many in the metro east, Congressmen Jerry Costello and John Shimkus among them, who complained that it could mean dramatic increases in flood insurance premiums.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday that it will delay the release of the maps until 2011 at the earliest. The maps are part of an effort by FEMA to identify and reduce the financial and physical impact of floods nationwide.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who announced the FEMA decision Monday, says he'll introduce legislation soon that would help protect metro east homes and businesses in the event of future flooding.

In a statement, Costello said, "While this is welcome news, it amounts to a five-month delay. We still need a long-term solution to the problem of flood insurance premium increases, and I will continue to pursue my legislation, H.R. 3415, which would freeze current flood insurance rates in place as long as the local jurisdiction is implementing a plan to fix its levees."