Flood insurance relief on the horizon - FOX 13 News

Flood insurance relief on the horizon

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There's some encouraging news if you face skyrocketing flood insurance bills. Congress appears to be close to a deal that could save local homeowners thousands of dollars.

It could provide critical relief for homeowners facing soaring premiums they cannot afford.

Congress previously decided to stop subsidizing flood insurance, because the federal flood insurance program is $24 billion in debt. But the loss of subsidies would drive up many Tampa Bay area flood premiums by thousands of dollars.

Pinellas County would take one of the hardest hits in the state, with more than 30,000 homes affected (including 15,000 in St. Petersburg).

"A lot of people are really scared," said St. Pete Beach resident Bennett Harrell. "They have to buy something they can't afford."

The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to reign in flood rates. The U.S. Senate has already passed a similar bill. Next, the chambers will work to merge their plans into one and get the president to sign it.

"If they're moving that's fine, but keep moving," said St. Pete Beach resident Maribeth Hock. "Do it! Make sure this (hike in rates) is not going to happen."

The House plan would generally keep rates hikes in check. Rates would still go up and some older homes could still face comparatively higher rates. It would keep subsidies in place after home sales, and it would give people refunds if they've already paid extra.

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