County leaders speak out against FEMA’s price increase for flood insurance
HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - As the cost for flood insurance is set to increase nationwide in April, the Harrison County Board of Supervisors voted Monday morning in support of a coalition against it.
FEMA’s new Flood Risk Rating 2.0 went into effect in October for new policyholders, and rates for existing properties are expected to increase drastically in April.
Some call it the most significant overhaul to the National Flood Insurance Program since its creation.
It will impact communities across the nation, but coastal leaders are coming together in hopes to stop it.
“We need to join forces with other states and other counties and other cities,” Bill Lavers, the executive director of Harrison County’s Economic Development Commission, announced during the meeting.
The board voted all in favor of joining forces with the Coalition for Sustainable Flood Insurance in a move against the rising insurance rates.
“It will absolutely kill our economy in the United States,” Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco told WLOX. “If they continue to compound it, like 18% this time, 18% next time, or compound that, there’s no way for businesses and residents to survive that.”
Rockco said Flood Risk Rating 2.0 will leave a dramatic impact on new and existing property.
According to the Coalition, policyholders typically paying annual premiums of about $600-$700 could soon see their rate jumping to about $3,000-5,000, or even higher.
“We’ve got to do something. We’ve got to speak up because there’s, it’s going to affect everybody,” Lavers said.
The new rates are based on new metrics used by FEMA to determine your risk. How close you live to water is one of the biggest changes.
“They’re basically talking about changing four things in one change, and each one of those four things are dramatic on their own,” he said. “All four of them added together could be catastrophic.”
About 34,000 structures in South Mississippi are insured by the federal program that experts say is deep in debt.
The new rates are intended to shore up FDIP, but officials worry that some property owners will not be able to afford the protection.
“We’d like the public to be aware and question and call their elected officials and let’s try to get some reason put back into this before things get out of control,” Lavers said.
In February, the county will meet with federal officials, legislators and city mayors regarding the local economic impact of Flood Risk Rating 2.0.
Meanwhile, the Harrison County Economic Development Commission is expected to vote to join the coalition Tuesday. The Long Beach City Council will take the same steps next week.
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