SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 28, 2013

Increased flood insurance plans spark concern

Meeting set for Monday in Lynn

(Continued)

“Going from $200 a month to $1,000 for flood insurance will seriously impact the affordability,” she said.

It is unknown how many people would be affected by the changes in Essex County. FEMA did not return phone calls and emails seeking statistics for the county.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors says the changes could have a negative impact on the recovery of the real estate market.

FEMA says the phase-out of subsidies will affect fewer than 20 percent of flood policyholders nationwide. Tuesday’s roll out only includes non-primary residences, businesses and properties that have experienced severe, repeated losses. The rate will increase for primary residences when their community’s flood maps are updated.

As part of the reform, FEMA has released preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which could also impact insurance rates.

To address some concerns, FEMA will host a community meeting on its preliminary maps at the Lynn City Hall Auditorium, 3 City Hall Square, Monday at 6 p.m. FEMA staff will be on hand from 3 to 8 p.m. to talk one-on-one with residents, locate properties on the maps and discuss flood insurance implications.

Congressman John Tierney joined the Massachusetts delegation on Thursday in signing a letter to House and Senate leaders pushing to delay the start date of the reform.

“While we support the overall goals of this legislation, we are concerned that if it is fully implemented absent additional measures, some residents and small businesses located in Massachusetts may be faced with economically devastating impacts,” the group wrote. The letter calls for adequate funding for the National Academy of Sciences to complete an affordability study as mandated by the law. The letter also asks for FEMA to improve its outreach in informing homeowners and businesses about the changes.

“Local residents are confused and concerned as they learn of their placement on flood maps and as their flood insurance premiums and rates suddenly increase,” Tierney wrote in a statement. “Many of them had little to no warning that this would happen. FEMA has a responsibility to meet with and assist those affected by the changes in flood maps, and I have been pressing the agency to do a better job on that front.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.

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