Residents to rally against flood insurance rate hikes

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Fired up over flood insurance rate hikes that are about to take effect?

A protest rally is planned for Saturday at Ballast Point Park, 5300 Interbay Blvd., Tampa. A grassroots group calling itself Stop FEMA Now is organizing the protest, which will start at noon. The rally will include property owners from throughout the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg.

Similar rallies are planned in at least 10 other states, as federally mandated rate hikes are about to take effect for many properties in flood-prone areas.

Pinellas County, including St. Petersburg, is expected to be impacted heavily. Realtors report that the Shore Acres and Snell Isle neighborhoods will be particularly hard hit by increased premiums.

Protests over reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program also are planned for New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Alabama, Hawaii and Iowa.

Florida lawmakers and local leaders have raised concerns about the reforms, passed by Congress in the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012. The flood insurance increases will go into effect on Oct. 1.