Flood insurance rates are going up soon - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Flood insurance rates are going up soon

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PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

If you have flood insurance, you're in for a shock. A bill was signed into law last summer by the president with little fanfare. The Biggert-Waters act essentially reforms the National Flood Insurance Program to make it solvent. But with that change come large rate increases for flood insurance policies.

Steve Mitchell is the operations manager for the City of Pascagoula. When he first heard of Biggert-Waters, little did he know the impact it would have in city flood zones. Now he does. 

"In essence, if you have a property that's located in a V zone, of course, you're at a higher risk and you're not built to the current flood elevations, then you could see up to 25 percent per year," Mitchell explained. 

JoAnn Roberts and her family have lived on the banks of the Singing River for decades. She has flood insurance, but with large rate increases on the way, she sees troubled financial waters in her future.  

"I would either have to go in my savings, and I don't have that much, or eventually I would probably have to sell my home," Roberts said.  "I don't know of anything else I could do." 

Realtors like Chester Harvey are concerned as well.  

"Well, obviously, it's not going to be good for our market. We've been depressed for so long and anything that adds to the bottom line of someone's house note, will certainly be affected, and not for the good," Harvey said. 

In an area that's been plagued by rising private insurance rates ever since Katrina, any rise in rates in the National Flood Insurance Program could possibly prove damaging to future economic development. 

Joe Huffman is the Pascagoula City Manager. 

"Every day we are competing with other communities for businesses and activities such as that and any edge we lose with an insurance rate increase, I think, is detrimental to our overall effort," Huffman said. 

Even if the flood insurance program becomes solvent, Huffman feels other economic damage could offset that.

"If you have less investment along the coastline, what impact does that have on economy and the ability to pay other costs of government at the federal level?" Huffman asked. 

Good questions indeed. 

Once new rates and guidelines are established, homeowners and businesses could start seeing rate increases beginning in August.

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