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|Flood insurance concern|
|Written by Susanna Sheehan|
|Thursday, 19 September 2013 11:14|
Concern over the new flood maps and their inclusion of thousands of new coastal properties has been a hot topic all over Massachusetts recently because many homeowners who never needed flood insurance before must now buy the costly policies.
On Thursday, Duxbury residents will have an opportunity to see how the new maps affect their properties at a meeting held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at the Tarkiln Community Center from 5-8 p.m.
At the FEMA flood map workshop open house, representatives will explain how and why the risk of local flooding has changed and how the new flood maps were de- veloped and how they will be used. There will also be information on how homeowners can protect themselves from extensive flood damage.
From 5-7 p.m., residents can meet with a FEMA official to locate their property on the flood map. From 7-8 p.m. there will be a presentation on the maps and the flood insurance program and a question and answer session with regional FEMA representatives and local officials. The meeting is being held for Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth residents.
FEMA released Plymouth county’s new proposed flood maps after performing multi-year studies of Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth bays. According to FEMA, the map, known as a flood insurance rate map, or FIRM, and related flood risk data will be used to update plans to protect towns from flooding and identify changes in flood risks.
The new maps are still preliminary and have not yet been adopted. Town officials want residents to review the maps and speak out if they have any questions or concerns about them. Residents can appeal the map changes but must provide technical information with their appeals.
The maps have caused a lot of controversy in many coastal towns because they are affecting so many more properties and because the cost of flood insurance is skyrocketing. At a meeting in Marshfield earlier this month, hundreds of Marshfield and Scituate residents waited in a line for hours to consult with FEMA representatives. Many were upset upon finding out that their homes were included under the new maps and that they would now be responsible for buying flood insurance. Others wanted answers about why the cost of flood insurance has risen.
In Marshfield, the new flood maps include an ad- ditional 2,000 properties. In Duxbury, the number is much lower but there is no exact figure of affected properties right now, said Duxbury Town Planner Tom Broadrick. He said he expects FEMA representatives will have that information at the Thursday night meeting.
The new maps are tied to the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act, which ended the long-term federal subsidies that have kept flood insurance artificially low in flood-prone areas, like beachfront properties.
Local legislators Representative Josh Cutler (D-Dux- bury) and State Senator Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth) are expected to testify this week on a bill regarding flood maps. Cutler plans to attend the meeting Thursday in Duxbury.
Hedlund, whose district consists of seven coastal towns, will call on United States Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey to testify against the new flood insurance rate maps recently released by FEMA.
Senator Hedlund sent a letter to Jeff Merkley, chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Policy on Monday, asking Merkley to help delay the federal insurance changes that are set to take effect under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Act requires federal agencies to change the way the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is run. Some of the key provisions in the legislation will require NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable and change how the Flood Insurance Rate Map updates impact policyholders.
“As we’ve studied the details of these changes on the local level, it has become evident that the impact will be devastating to many homeowners and families of my district and all along the Massachusetts coast,” Hedlund said in his letter to Merkley.
In his letter, Hedlund said residents will be left with little time to appeal the new maps and the legislation that will require them to pay thousands more for flood insurance.
“While I appreciate the argument for reforming flood insurance policy, I do not agree with the changes being made or the data being used to support those changes,” Hedlund said.
The senator also wrote a letter to U.S. Senators Warren and Markey, informing them of a hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 18 with the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs subcommittee on Economic Policy. The hearing is entitled “Implementation of The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012: One Year After Enactment.” At the hearing, Craig Fugate, Administrator of FEMA, will testify regarding the increases to flood insurance premiums many homeowners will face.
“I urge you to join [other senators] in their bipartisan effort to protect homeowners and families from the devastat- ing impact of Biggert-Water,” Hedlund wrote. “We need a solution from our federal government to fix this federal law and policy.”
The open house for Duxbury, Kingston and Plymouth residents will take place at 7 p.m. at 245 Summer St./Rt. 53 in Duxbury. FEMA will make a formal presentation on the flood map changes targeted toward residents and business owners who may be affected.