Flood insurance rates are changing across the country...and that will soon include areas in and around Minot.
FEMA is working to build new flood maps, which will be used by lending agencies to decide if flood insurance is required when a loan is made for a home.
As Perry Olson tells us, those rates may soon skyrocket, but a legislative band-aid may be in the works.
America's flood insurance program is in the red -- billions of dollars. Devastation brought by hurricanes like Sandy on the east coast, Katrina in the gulf, and Florida storms delivered us here...and North Dakota State Senator Scott Louser fears getting back to the black could come on the backs of folks like those in the valley in Minot.
(Rep. Scott Louser - (R) Minot) "When we are looking at a program that we participate in across the country that is effected by other parts of the country, the catastrophic events could raise our rates."
FEMA is working on new flood maps and rates now...and those rates could be sky high...
(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp - (D) North Dakota) "Your bank is going to demand that you have flood insurance and that insurance is all of a sudden 10K a year which is what is happening in LA and parts of NY."
But while FEMA works, so too does Congress. Heitkamp says legislation is being drawn up in the Senate Banking Committee that she serves on to try and keep rates down...
(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp - (D) North Dakota) "We would delay implementation of the new rates until we were able to secure an affordability study and look at different techniques to promote affordability." (Sen. John Hoeven - (R) North Dakota) "We need an affordability evaluation before FEMA is raising flood insurance rates."
A common fear is that high flood insurance rates would render many homeowners already stretched thin financially with a home they can't afford because of insurance...and a home that would be hard to sell too...
(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp - (D) North Dakota) "We need to do everything that we can to make sure those homes stay affordable."
Heitkamp says she would like to see a solution that taps into the resources of the entire country...not just regions that flood.
(Sen. Heidi Heitkamp - (D) North Dakota) "It is about putting a program together so that we can convince our colleagues that this is not asking them to subsidize our states, this is us asking them to help share the risk of catastrophic events. Take a look at this program and then take a look at affordability."
Not surprisingly, senators from North Dakota, Florida, Louisiana, and on the east coast are leading the charge. As of today, how high rates go is a mystery -- and who would be required to have insurance the same...
(Rep. Scott Louser - (R) Minot) "We don't know when the maps will be completed...we don't know when the rules will come out...we don't know what the rules are going to be. There is a lot of frustration."
For lawmakers, and homeowners alike. In Minot, Perry Olson, KX News.
Rep. Louser says there may be a state answer to the problem down the line.
We'll hear from him on his idea on that tomorrow.