1. Florida Politics

FEMA chief says he can't stop flood insurance rate increases

Craig Fugate
Craig Fugate
Published Sep. 19, 2013

Congress must rewrite a federal flood control act if it wants to spare homeowners from skyrocketing rate increases, the nation's top disaster official told a Senate committee Wednesday, because he doesn't have the authority to stop it.

"Let me put my cards on the table: I need your help,'' FEMA administrator Craig Fugate told the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Fugate said that despite indications that many homeowners could face rate increases for their homes in flood prone areas starting Oct. 1, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 included no provisions to delay or taper the increases.

"Without some additional legislative support, there is no provision for affordability in this bill,'' he said.

The hearing was called by senators who are increasingly alarmed by estimated rate increases for homeowners as a result of the act. With nearly 2 million homeowners covered under the act, Florida may be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation.

The 2012 act was passed to keep the national flood insurance program from spiraling into insolvency by phasing out lower, subsidized rates for older properties in flood zones.