UPDATE: Federal Flood Insurance Spike Delayed

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

UPDATE 10/29/13 @ 2 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Thousands of homeowners across the country will get a break on rising flood insurance costs.

Congress has reached a deal to delay a law that does away with flood insurance subsidies.

Homeowners were facing a 25% increase in their flood insurance cost each year.

In Kanawha County alone, 68% of homes were going to be affected.

The new deal delays the increases by four years.

It will allow FEMA to conduct a feasibility and affordability study.

ORIGINAL STORY 10/22/13 @ 6:17 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Bob Runnion built his house three years ago in St. Albans, thinking it was a solid investment.

As it turns out, he was wrong.

"We were just sick last night," he said. "I mean, what are you going to do ... it's a brand-new home."

Runnion lives along Riverbend Boulevard -- a community hit hard by flood insurance rate spikes. The nationwide increase is because of the Biggert-Waters Act, passed by Congress in July 2012.

It eliminates federally-subsidized flood insurance for homes across the country, translating into a 25 percent increase per year until homeowners meet the full federal rates.

"This was done with no real discussion," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said. "I don't recall our local Congressional delegation being concerned about this."

Commissioners say their office fields dozens of calls per day from homeowners like Runnion who are now paying the price.

"People who work very hard are trying to own a home and protect their home," Carper said. "And their legs are being cut out from underneath them by Congress and the federal government with no warning."

Floodplain managers say about 68 percent of homeowners in Kanawha County will see their bill increase. In the Riverbend development alone, they say 90 percent of homes are affected.

Runnion knows that means selling his home will be 100 percent more difficult.

"It's like an abandoned neighborhood," he said. "When the next generation tries to better themselves by moving into a nice neighborhood like this, they can't afford it. The flood insurance will be more than the house payment."

Carper says he plans to gather more information about how badly homeowners are affected in Kanawha County and present it to federal decision-makers.

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