Homeowners from across the Bay Area rallied Saturday for a last-ditch effort to try to convince lawmakers to delay or stop the massive flood insurance rate hikes set to go into effect next week.
The group organizing the event, is called "Stop FEMA Now," and held dozens of events simultaneously across the country; the Federal Emergency Management Agency oversees the National Flood Insurance Program, which is at the center of the increases to premium costs.
"America cannot afford this," said Cheri Bett, who owns a several homes and rental properties 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 law set to go into effect will end federal subsidies for homes in flood zones, affecting more than 1 million policy-holders nationwide.
The new high-priced, risk-based premiums go into effect Oct. 1 and thousands of Bay Area homeowners, many in Pinellas County, will be affected, perhaps seeing their rates increase by thousands of dollars.
"There are too many people out there who are stating that this is a problem of the wealthy. This affects working class and middle class Americans so much more," Bett said.
Kenneth Strickland organized the event at Ballast Point Park in Tampa to try to warn folks they need to be aware this is coming unless something is done quickly at the state and federal levels.
"There are just a lot of people that don't know what the impact of this is going to be," said Strickland, who added the impact is already being felt. "Unfortunately a lot of people are losing the sales of their homes to prospective buyers because of this issue."
This all started last year, when Congress passed legislation paving the way for the rate hike. Several lawmakers now say, it turns out, they weren't fully informed and many of them want to delay the increases.
Gov. Rick Scott weighed in Saturday, calling for immediate action.
"The need to delay this," Scott said. "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."
The Mississippi Department of Insurance filed a lawsuit Friday to try to stop the law from going into effect.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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