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Flood insurance costs could force locals from homes
Nov 27, 2013

The sudden increases in some federal flood insurance premiums are threatening to force some Bay Area residents out of their homes.

A recent law reforming the National Flood Insurance Program has sent rates climbing, in some cases, more than 500 percent.

On Bethel Island in Contra Costa County, Mike and Sandy Parsons' bill went from about $2,100 to $12,600 for the coming year.

Sandy Parsons told KTVU she thought the statement from her insurance agent was a typo at first, but it wasn't.

“I will pay more for flood insurance than I do for the house over the course of the loan, which just seems crazy,” said Sandy Parsons.

The Parsons' one-story home sits in a flood zone, nine feet below sea level, but they say they only recently found out about the new law affecting their rate.

Congress passed flood insurance reform last year in an effort to make the National Flood Insurance Program sustainable again. The program fell $24 billion in debt after a series of catastrophic storms, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Along California's Delta, the Parsons say some of their neighbors have seen premium increases even higher than their own.

“$40,000 (for) one resident out here. Another resident, I heard $25,000,” said Mike Parsons.

On its website, FEMA says the newly adjusted rates are designed to reflect “true flood risk,” but now some of the same members of Congress who passed the insurance reform want to delay it, in order to help homeowners who say they can't afford to pay.

Despite making some changes to their property to possibly lower their rate, the Parsons say they and many others could be forced to move.

“I will not continue to live here, if there's no resolution to pay that much money in flood insurance, a year. It's not sensible to me,” said Sandy Parsons.