After Hurricane Katrina and Sandy the Federal Government passed the Briggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act.
The measure passed with bipartisan support. The goal was to stabilize the National Flood Insurance Program.
“There were some shortfalls in funding for the program. The intent was to help restore some of the funding to keep that program solvent,” said Kim Skumanick, President of Pa Association of Realtors.
Now that parts of the law have gone into effect lawmakers are scrambling because of how high insurance rates are climbing.
Homeowners are being required by FEMA to pay for evaluation studies with the end result of higher insurance premiums.
Richard Chowanec, a homeowner testified at a hearing Monday in front of the Democratic Policy Committee. “My premium could go from almost $1,300 to three, four-thousand, five thousand dollars a year. I don`t make that much. My salary, I haven`t had a raise in approximately five years.”
If homeowners try to sell the rates could go even higher because the new rate automatically goes into effect for the new home buyer.
“We`re going to have people abandoning their homes because they can`t afford the flood insurance and nobody else will want to buy the house because the flood insurance is too much. This is a problem. This is a crisis,” said Representative Patty Kim.
Under the law FEMA is updating flood maps nationwide and reassess the level of flood risk for various areas. Those changes may put homes into flood zones for the first time and force those homeowners to buy flood insurance.
The Federal Government is considering plans to delay the measure while the state government is looking for ways to ease the burden on homeowners and businesses now.
“This act I don`t think was well thought through. I know it`s not well thought through,” said Rep. Kim.
Two Senate Committees will hold another hearing Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.