Congressman Palazzo warns of potential disaster with flood insurance hikes

Published: Aug. 21, 2013 at 4:56 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2013 at 9:54 AM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of home owners face potentially devastating rate hikes in the National Flood Insurance program. Congressman Steven Palazzo says those premium increases could be disastrous for South Mississippi and America. That's why he invited to the coast, the FEMA deputy who administers the flood insurance program.

FEMA's David Miller saw the faces of those who are "worried to death" about the impact.

"If we lose this house and don't have coverage, we've lost everything.  And we become a homeless person. Because there's no way we could ever rebuild," said home owner Bo Sager, as she spoke to Congressman Palazzo and Deputy Miller about her situation.

Jim and Bo Sager did rebuild their Henderson Point home after Katrina, complying with FEMA elevation and other requirements. But the new flood insurance map puts them in a more risky zone. And more risky means more costly.

"I'm going from $500 to almost $7,000 in flood insurance. That's totally off the wall. It's unbelievable," said the Sager's daughter, Diane.

And that's why Congressman Steven Palazzo brought David Miller to 415 3rd Street. Miller is the FEMA deputy who oversees the National Flood Insurance Program.

"We need to come back and find a compassionate solution to these rate increases. Because it's absolutely unfair that when you play by the rules, you rebuild back to code, you're compliant and then they move the goal posts and you just have to keep catching up," said Congressman Palazzo.

"It's the uncertainty of the action that's hitting them as well. So, we're trying to go through this together, learn the lessons. What effect it has on individuals and the communities," said FEMA's Miller.

Mrs. Sager told the group she's not worried about the threat of hurricanes, that's something she's dealt with all her life. But she is concerned about this potential enormous increase in the flood insurance premium. Not just a financial strain, but it's also taking an emotional toll.

"You know, they're responsible home owners and citizens and have been all their lives. And now they're being put in a position that's going to make it economically, the hardship is unbelievable," said daughter, Diane.

It's a hardship that has the attention of Congressman Palazzo, who says Congress needs to sense the urgency of this issue and find a compassionate solution.

The congressman also held a meeting Wednesday with several coast mayors, supervisors and city leaders to discuss those flood insurance concerns.

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