Homeowners brace for flood insurance bills

4:50 AM, Sep 30, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The "For Sale" sign in front of Larry Belanger's investment house is coming down. Even though he's done a lot of work to it, there's no way he can sell it now -- now that he knows how much a new buyer would have to pay for flood insurance.

"It came out at $45,663 and some odd cents," Belanger says. 

And when this reporter asked what went through his head when he heard that figure?

"I was sitting down fortunately, because my agent said, 'are you sitting down?'"

Belanger doesn't have a mortgage, so he's not forced to buy flood insurance for the Jungle neighborhood house, which is about a block from the water. He says he'll be okay renting the house.

But his heart goes out to others who won't be able to afford the hikes or sell their house when they need to.

"A lot of people are going to be impacted by this horrendous, catastrophic flood insurance," Belanger says.

Belanger and hundreds of others crowded a public meeting in Seminole Wednesday night to learn more about the flood insurance crisis. Congress approved the hikes last year, in order to bolster the federal flood insurance program after Hurricane Katrina.

SEE ALSO: Learn more about the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012

And you don't have to live near the water to be affected. There are some 70,000 homes in Pinellas and Hillsborough with insurance subsidies that are being phased out and many of them are inland.

RELATED: Homeowners face flood insurance crisis in Pinellas Co.

And no matter what the location, the skyrocketing rates brought about by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) are taking many by surprise.

MORE: Flood insurance reforms produce crippling premiums

When Joan Putrino purchased a house in St. Pete's Northeast neighborhood just five months ago, "No one brought it up", she says.

And now Putrino says her insurance rates will eventually quadruple.  If she'd had that information up front, she may have looked elsewhere. "It's not really a downsize; I mean, our expenses are going to be higher than they were in a bigger house, so it's devastating," says Putrino.

Sen. Bill Nelson and senators from Louisiana and New Jersey are working to delay the rate hikes, but that may be unlikely. Nelson says his legislation is now being blocked by "partisan politics" and lawmakers who oppose Obamacare.


See map: Single family Hillsborough homes in FEMA High Risk Flood Zones

See map: Single Family Pinellas Homes in FEMA High Risk Flood Zones


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