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Some flood insurance hikes may be delayed
Some of the National Flood Insurance Program rate hikes may be delayed — easing the stress on many local residents — if Congress is successful in delaying parts of the the Biggert-Waters National Flood Insurance Reform Act.
According to City of Miles City’s Flood Administrator Sam Malenovsky, the flood insurance rates are being increased in phases. Some increases have taken effect, but there is an effort underway to delay it for four years.
The delay is being considered because FEMA is conducting an affordability study, which was supposed to have been completed this past spring, but FEMA may need another two years to finish. Then Congress wants to have two years to review it once it’s finished, therefore congress members are asking for the rate hikes to be postponed four years, until the study and review are completed.
As of Oct. 28, key House and Senate members are in agreement on the action, but nothing is finalized.
Malenovsky encourages local residents to write letters to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Steve Daines, letting them know how the hikes have already affected them. Those stories may help ensure passage of the act.
She said she’s talked with people who are scared of losing their homes because they can’t afford the insurance, and people can’t sell their homes because potential buyers are afraid of steep flood insurance increases.
Malenovsky has been told that the local real estate business is nearly coming to a halt because of the flood insurance fears.
These stories and information on how much people’s insurance has gone up, and how it’s affecting them, their families and their businesses are all things Congress members need to hear, she said.
Malenovsky continues working on other ways to reduce flood insurance rates.
Miles City is part of the Community Rating System, which results in a 5 percent discount on flood insurance premiums, with another 5 percent coming in May, because of work done by Malenovsky to educate the public and get the information out to homeowners.
In June she was the first flood plain administrator in the state to earn a Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation award for her work in the flood management field.
She has now set up a group (with realtors, lenders, etc.) to continue to find ways to ease the flood insurance burden.
“We’re working really hard to lower that rate .... I’m going to do whatever I can to help people out,” she said.
According to DNRC’s June newsletter, Miles City has the highest flood insurance policy count in the state.
As of March 31, Miles City had 1,419 policies, and over half are subsidized (getting a discount) under the old act. Those subsidies are projected to end next year if the delays efforts fail, she said.
Malenovsky said if anyone would like to drop off letters to her in City Hall or e-mail them to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, she’d be happy to get them to the congressmen.
Sen. Max Baucus
United States Senate
511 Hart Senate
Sen. Jon Tester
United States Senate
724 Hart Senate
Rep. Steve Daines
United States House of Representatives
206 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515