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Proposed Law Could Delay Drastic Flood Insurance Increases

EXETER – As hundreds of homeowners in Luzerne County prepare for pricier flood insurance policies,
U.S. Senator Bob Casey said he is pushing legislation that could delay the increases.

Casey said the “The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act” would delay the anticipated increase for 30,000 policyholders in Pennsylvania.

A law passed in 2012 called for FEMA to eliminate many of the subsidies that help pay for expensive policies on properties in flood zones.

Casey told Newswatch 16 that the law is not a quick fix, but part of the solution as lawmakers look for a long-term answer to the issue.

“It’s easy for some to say that if they`re not living through it,” said Casey. “A delay of a rate increase, I think, is a measure of help that they wouldn`t have otherwise.”

Exeter Mayor Cassandra Coleman-Corcoran said she supports the legislation, because some struggling homeowners may not be able to afford the increased flood insurance policies.

“These people have just been hit over and over again,” said Coleman-Corcoran. “The increase would just put people out of their homes. With taxes, it’s absolutely ridiculous.”

West Pittston Mayor Tony Denisco said one resident’s policy skyrocketed to $4,000 annually.

“They’re tearing (flood houses) down, they cannot be built on that property again,” said Denisco. “We’re losing tax revenue there. Some of them are moving out of town.”

Sara Pencek said the flood insurance on her home in Exeter recently increased to $500 annually, and she’s hoping that lawmakers find a long-term solution.

“There should be a better way to handle it than this,” said Pencek. “I don’t think we should be responsible for having to pay for flood insurance on houses that aren’t in the flood zones right now.”

3 comments

  • bill

    EVERY time the government uses the term “affordable” WE the people will get it up the butt. Why doesn’t bobby do some investigative work for a change and find out why the insurance is going up so high and do something about that?

  • sally

    My daughter lives in Northampton County. She lives aside of a creek.
    The creek beside her house hasn’t flooded since 1955, that’s 59 yrs ago.
    When she moved into the home her flood insurance was $300. She has received an incremental increase in her flood insurance every year since she paid the $300 which was 5 yrs ago.(and yet, still the creek hasn’t flooded anything) Now with the Biggert-Waters act, it is now $1700 a yr. She has tried to sell her home 5 times. Since the latest increase, no one will touch it. She received the letter from FEMA to do an elevation test before she could pay her next premium. It cost her $1000 which she didn’t have. I helped her with that cost, but then the shock……$1700 a yr which will go up for the next several yrs. But when she asked them how much, they couldn’t tell her. She’s gone to her Borough, her insurance agent, our State representative for the County. No one would even help her write a letter to FEMA. We just wanted to make a case that it hasn’t flooded since ’55. And that the big reasons for that are: After the last flood, which was not since 1955, that’s 58 years ago, The Francis E. Walter dam was built in the Poconos to help in flood prevention. Also, the Beltzville dam was also built for flood control. These dams help control the flow into the Lehigh River. There has not been a flood in her town by this creek since these dams were built. In fact, nor has any water from the creek that runs by my daughter’s house ever come up in her yard at any time, even through the worst Hurricances that have happened since 1955. Doesn’t anyone understand that was prevention? But does anybody care? No. All FEMA cared about was the elevation figures to compute her new premium. they needed to know how high she was from the floor of the creek, her footer elevation, etc. They didn’t even take the dam information into consideration before they increased her rate. How can that be?
    She’s gone to her bank in person and sat down with the officer telling him, “I can’t afford this flood insurance!” You know what the bank said?
    “If you can’t afford it, we’ll pay it for you.” Oh sure, they’re tacking it onto
    her mortgage amount. And they’ll pay it yr after yr until it’s time for her to
    retire and she won’t be able to retire because then she’ll have to pay her home all over again. Are you kidding me? Doesn’t anybody understand this? When she talked to her bank representative in the last conversation, he said, unfortunately there’s nothing else we as a bank can do. I understand you are not left with some very difficult decisions?
    Really? You’re right Bill, no studies were ever done. All they care about is inches and feet. Unbelievable. You think she’s gonna want to stay in that house after this? Would anyone? Go bankrupt at retirement age. Oh yeah, that would be nice.
    I cry for her, I really do. They are so stuck. This is nutz!

  • Bill Slycat

    Although the points made are correct, this story downplays FEMA’s flood rate damage to homeowners. Around the country, many are seeing rates rise up to $25K – $40K per year and more for modest working class homes. Most of those homes do not qualify for grant money to raise the homes above the new flood plain levels. Even with grants (up to $30K), homeowners would be on the hook for an additional $30 -$70K. For older folks and those with disabilities, raising homes up 12 feet or so is not an option. The vast majority of those affected are working class people who count on their next paycheck to get by. Add to this the disgraceful fact that Biggert-Waters required that an affordability study be done within 270 days of passage. That study was never done. FEMA claims that was because the study was never funded, but I believe it wasn’t done because FEMA does not want to have to take the conclusion of such a study into account. A lot of folks are fighting these hikes on a grassroots level, including Stop FEMA NOW…you can Google them.

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