Dallas Mayor: Get Flood Insurance

Rates may rise or the availability may end over federal levee questions

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert urges thousands of property owners who thought they were protected by the Trinity River levees to get flood insurance while they can.

The federal government is reviewing the integrity of the 79-year-old levees and could reduce the flood insurance rating for adjacent areas.

"We’re saying it is the prudent thing right now to go ahead and get flood insurance while it’s the low rates," Leppert said.

Business owners who never worried about flood insurance are worrying about it now.

"We’re just kind of hearing about this for the first time,” said Max Paulsen, owner of Lots Of Furniture on Industrial Boulevard.

His business is just a block from the levee, in a low-lying area that would flood if the levee failed.

"I don’t live in daily fear," Paulsen said. "I just live in fear of having really exorbitant flood insurance."

Commercial real estate agent Marcus Wood, who has specialized in Trinity River area properties for many years, said uncertainties about the levees are hampering leases and sales.

"This is why it is so critical for this maintenance of the levees to be resolved," he said.

City and federal officials said they are working to do just that. But solutions could be very expensive.

Wood is proposing a small maintenance fee for properties protected by the levees. He said it would cost far less than flood insurance.

Paulsen said he believes the city already receives enough tax money to address the problems.

"I’m confident that the city of Dallas is going to do something," he said. "We can’t afford for the levees to fail."

You can search federal maps by zip code to see if your property lies in a flood zone here: http://www.msc.fema.gov.

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