La Crosse homeowners battle rising flood insurance prices

About 2,000 homes, garages and businesses in La Crosse are in the floodplain and on Tuesday night the La Crosse Floodplain Advisory Committee talked to those homeowners about their concerns.

Flood insurance is offered through the federal government, specifically Federal Emergency Management Administration.

An act signed into law last year by the U.S. government removed the insurance subsidies provided to nearly all of La Crosse residents in the floodplain, now those insurance rates are expected to increase 10 percent to 15 percent each year.

At the meeting, homeowners said they can’t sell their homes because no one wants to buy a home in the floodplain and are searching for anything they can do to lower their costs.

“To reduce your flood risk by elevating your home, filling your basement in, putting some vents in the foundation to let water pass through,you’re lowering your risk, you lower that risk your premium lowers,” said Doug Kerns, floodplain manager for La Crosse.

One of those in the audience with questions was Philip Tauscher. He’s a lifelong resident of La Crosse and wants to continue to live in his home on the northside.

He said a letter addressed to him from FEMA told him that his house has never had any flooding problems, but his house is still considered in the floodplain so he has to pay for flood insurance, but he said the cost is getting out of hand.

“It’s going to end up costing more for the flood insurance that may or may not ever happen, as opposed to just regular homeowners insurance and it just doesn’t seem realistic. It just seems like we’re kind of a money trough to pay for other things we’ll never end up using or needing,” Tauscher said.

Kerns said the tough question now will be what can the city do to help homeowners out.

Residents at the meeting Tuesday said this has been an ongoing battle for 40 plus years, the city agrees saying there is no simple solution.

Kerns said La Crosse is one of the most unique areas in the country in terms of flooding because there are three major rivers merging into one within a quarter mile of one another.

The Floodplain Advisory Committee will now try to find some way of helping out homeowners whether that is financially through grant money or some sort of outside-the-box method.