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Dozens turn out for flood insurance public meeting

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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. -

Dozens of homeowners concerned about rising flood insurance rates showed up at a meeting in Morehead City Thursday.

The State Department of Public Safety was on hand to explain why the National Flood Insurance Program is changing.

Congress passed a law last year called the Biggert Waters Act, requiring a 25 percent increase in flood insurance premiums for some homeowners in flood-prone areas.

Many people showed up to find out whether their pocketbooks would be affected.

The Public Safety Department says the federal government underestimated how vulnerable some areas are, so they're raising premiums to match how often those areas flood.

"I'm kind of really fed up with the way things are with government. They just say, ‘We're going to do it,' and do it. You know, I never got a letter from the flood people saying, ‘Well, we're thinking about raising the rates and this is the reason and all that,' and nobody really knows what's going on," said Greg Earler, a Beaufort resident.

The Public Safety Department says Congress passed the law partly in response to the overwhelming number of Hurricane Katrina flood insurance claims.

-- Previous story --

Flood insurance premiums could jump 25 percent for some homeowners on the Crystal Coast.

The State Department of Public Safety says it's a result of a change in the National Flood Insurance Program mandated by Congress.

Most homeowners won't see a hike, but Congress is mandating a 25 percent increase in flood insurance premiums for those who meet the following three criteria, according to Randy Mundt, outreach supervisor of the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program at the North Carolina Department of Public Safety:

  1. You have to have a non-primary residence or business in a flood-prone area.
  2. Your property was built prior 1975 or before the community received its first flood risk mapping by the National Flood Insurance Program.
  3. You've been paying a subsidized insurance rate.

"The changes are to try and make sure that the National Flood Insurance program maintains its stability and is viable into the future," said Mundt.

Mundt says the changes fall under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, which went into effect January 2013. The goal is to help prevent a problem FEMA has been dealing with for years, especially in the Gulf Coast.

"Those properties were continually flooded, claims made, claims paid, to the point where over time, you could have bought the house two or three times over," said Mundt.

Thursday the town of Morehead City will host a public forum about the NFIP and the policy changes that could affect you.

Wanda Eastep, who lives in a flood-prone area in Morehead City, says she is planning to go "to be informed of why they feel the need to increase the rates."

"Insurance is expensive as it is. And to keep increasing it, it puts a real dent in a person's income, particularly if you're retired," said Eastep.

The forum is Thursday from 3 to 4:30 PM at the Morehead City Municipal Building.

Mundt says Congress passed the law partly in response to the overwhelming number of Hurricane Katrina flood insurance claims.

He says the NFIP is currently in debt over $17 billion to the federal government to pay those claims, not including Hurricane Sandy, in which they borrowed over $9 billion to cover NFIP claims.

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