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Uncle Sam may want $2,766 from you

Mandatory flood insurance to help pay for Superstorm Sandy

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Uncle Sam may want $2,766 from you

The 1997 floods inundated Turtle Beach at the southwest end of Woodward Avenue.

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/Bulletin file photo

POSTED December 19, 2012 12:47 a.m.

Superstorm Sandy could end up costing some Manteca, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch homeowners as much as $2,766 a year.

That’s because there is a move afoot in Congress to revisit mandatory federal flood insurance.

Congress in June killed a bill that would have required property within residual risk areas be placed under mandatory coverage. About 500 homes in southwest Manteca near the Airport Way corridor as well as all of Weston Ranch and most of Lathrop lies within a residual risk area.

The residual risk area addresses not just homes protected by levees but communities in the path of any potential dam failure such as New Melones Reservoir.

Councilman John Harris brought up the flood insurance concern during Tuesday’s council meeting. It is being revived by some in Congress as a way of spreading out the financial risk of paying claims when major catastrophes such as Superstorm Sandy strikes.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford noted that areas along the Eastern Seaboard are prone to a much higher frequency of flooding. He added that many areas that are indentified as being in the residual flood zone in Manteca have never flooded “and may never do so.”

Manteca’s contracted lobbyists in Washington, D.C. - Van Scoyoc Associates - are already making contacts with proponents of such a requirement delineating concerns of San Joaquin Valley cities.

During April’s San Joaquin One trip that involved a contingent of elected and private sector leaders making pitches for federal money for San Joaquin County entities, Manteca council members Debby Moorhead and Steve DeBrum made the rounds with key bureaucratic and elected officials in the flood insurance tiff to make the city’s concerns known.

DeBrum has consistently characterized any such requirement for flood insurance as a “job killer” as it would significantly increase the cost of doing business in Manteca or Lathrop for a potential new employer. Moorhead has framed it as a mandate that could force more people out of their homes given it would cost many as much as $200 more a month.

Under the proposal that died in April, Manteca would have been designated either as a low to moderate risk or a high risk. The current talk centers around “higher risk” residual areas.

For a typical house in a zone designated as low to moderate risk, with a structure value of $250,000 and a content value of $100,000, the owner might only pay $500 for an annual premium.

If all 15,000 parcels in Manteca were assessed $500 it would equal an annual flood insurance payment of $7.5 million

If not, and if that house is placed into a high-risk zone the same level of insurance — which would become mandatory might cost $2,766.

The higher the value of the property, the higher the annual insurance premiums.

Flood insurance is not now required in Manteca. And even if levees did fail, only the southwest portion of Manteca as far east as Sierra High and north along Airport Way would flood based on historic data and the fall of the land. Under the Senate language that was stricken the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could include all sections of a city such as Manteca even though only a part has a potential risk in order to generate revenue to pay off future claims.

Current federal law does not require homes and businesses behind federally-certified levees and dams to purchase flood insurance nor are they subject to building restrictions.

The Senate language back in April - had it been adopted - would of imposed severe building restrictions on Manteca and many other valley cities.

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