Manteca homeowners - regardless of where they live - could get saddled with mandatory flood insurance forcing them to shell out $7.5 million a year.
That’s because the U.S. Senate is still toying with the idea of inserting a residual risk provision in the reauthorization bill for the National Flood Insurance Program. It would require all businesses and residents in cities such as Manteca, Lathrop, and possibly even Ripon that are protected by levees and dams where a 100-year flood is possible if they fail to buy federal flood insurance. It would also cover all rural areas around the three cities.
“This would be devastating for Manteca,” Manteca council member Debby Moorhead said.
Moorhead reported to the City Council this week on the meetings during the San Joaquin County One Voice trip to Washington, D.C. She noted that the House took the residual risk provision out of the version of the bill they adopted with Congressmen Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, supporting the effort.
Moorhead said they were told by Congress staff members that a temporary extension of the flood insurance program is expected until after the November election. That is when Moorhead fears - as well as those in Congress who oppose the additional insurance requirement- the bill will be brought up in a lame duck session and the wording re-inserted.
DeBrum made reference to homeowners near Fresno who were informed by the federal government that they owed “$2,600 now” for mandatory yearly flood insurance premiums. He was referring to the community of Riverdale that is miles from the San Joaquin River and has no history of flooding.
Under the proposal, Manteca would be designated either as a low to moderate risk or a high risk.
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.
DeBrum has noted that the requirement may end up just applying to homes with federally backed mortgage such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Veterans Administration, and the Federal Housing Authority. But even so, large numbers of Manteca homes have such federal mortgage backing.
Van Scoyoc Associates - the city’s lobbying firm - worked with Congressman Dennis Cardoza to draft and win a floor amendment in the House of Representatives that struck the residual risk provision.
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. However, DeBrum pointed out Federal Emergency Management Agency 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.
Under that definition, Manteca could be considered at risk not just from a levee break but from the possible failure of New Melones Reservoir.
Such language would also impose severe building restrictions on Manteca and many other valley cities if the language is successfully re-inserted and passed in the reauthorization bill.