WASHINGTON, D.C.–If you live on the coast or near a river, you know you are in danger of getting a giant flood insurance bill, thanks to the Biggert-Waters Act, national legislation that is being enforced by FEMA that some say unfairly penalizes you if you live near water.
It may be the possibility of some Mississippi homeowners refusing to pay the premiums, or perhaps even going bankrupt with sky-high rates that has moved Mississippi’s DC lawmakers to push for action by Congress to keep those rates down. Monday the U.S. Senate voted 86-13 to take up legislation that would prevent flood insurance rate increases until FEMA’s mapping methods are certified as technically sound, and until the affordability study is completed.
The bill would keep in place phase-out of subsidized flood insurance premiums for vacation homes and homes that have a history of repeated flooding.
“The reform legislation enacted in 2012 made positive changes to the program,” said Sen. Thad Cochran. “However, some of those changes are now working in opposition to the broader goals of reform. These shortcomings are alienating the very people the program is intended to help and actually threaten to make the (National Flood Insurance) program less solvent in the long run.”
“A constituent from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, contacted my office to give her perspective on the legislation. She wrote: “Built in 1986, [my house] survived all hurricanes including Katrina. I used my retirement savings to buy the house. Before closing, flood insurance was grandfathered at $245 per year. After closing, the rate skyrocketed to $18,450. You can understand my shock.” If you do the math, her new rates are more than 75 times the rate when she purchased her home.”
Cochran said expects bi-partisan passage of the bill. Congressman Steven Palazzo, who represents the Miss. Gulf Coast, has also been trying to get Congress to act.