If you own a home or business behind a structurally sound levee you won't be required to buy flood insurance. A provision that would have required the purchase was defeated in Washington D.C. with the help of area lawmakers. Originally a part of the National Flood Insurance Program re-authorization bill, it wound up attached to a package of measures including the transportation bill conference report and a proposal to cap student loan interest rates.
The levee issue has been a contentious one for a number of years. Work is now underway to upgrade the levees from Alton to the Columbia Bottoms at a cost of $151-million. When completed, the work will bring them back up to the 100-year flood level. The improvements could be wrapped up by 2014. Levees nationwide have been under the microscope since the Hurricane Katrina failure of 2005. The levees have never failed in the 70 years they have been in existence. If the levees are decertified by FEMA, the cost of new insurance premiums across the region could reach an estimated $50-million.