Tampa Bay homeowners rally to stop flood insurance rate hikes

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In a last-minute attempt to convince legislators to stop (or at least delay) federal flood insurance rates from skyrocketing Oct.1, homeowners across Tampa Bay held a rally Saturday afternoon.

The demonstrations were held as part of a simultaneous nationwide effort organized by the group “Stop FEMA Now,” reports Aaron Mesmer of FOX 13 News. FEMA is behind the flood zone changes that are the basis for the increases in federal flood insurance premiums.

“America cannot afford this,” homeowner Cheri Bett told MyFox Tampa Bay. Bett owns several homes and rental properties located in flood zones. “If I cannot find a way to pay for my flood insurance by raiding my savings, I will lose my house.”

The new law effectively ends federal subsidies for homes located in flood zones, as well as directing FEMA to draw new maps focusing on “realistic” flood dangers. It means thousands of homes will lose federal help for their premiums, and many others in the Tampa Bay area will change flood zone designations, both will  push flood insurance rates up by as much as thousands of dollars a year.

Gov. Rick Scott called for urgent action on Saturday.

“They need to delay this,” Scott told reporters. “This is going to have a devastating impact on a lot of our families. It impacts the poorest families the most. They can’t afford their flood insurance to be going up like this. So I’m going to continue to be calling on the Senate to go back and delay this.”

Friday, the Mississippi Department of Insurance filed a lawsuit to stop the law from going into effect.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.