Local group 'Stop FEMA Now' gets results in Washington as insurance overhaul is halted

Lawmakers in Washington have halted a federal overhaul of the nation's flood insurance program that would have raised rates for many homeowners still trying to rebuild after Sandy. (3/5/14)

MANTOLOKING - Lawmakers in Washington have halted a federal overhaul of the nation's flood insurance program that would have raised rates for many homeowners still trying to rebuild after Sandy.

Thousands with damaged or destroyed homes were facing a federal law from 2012 meant to raise premiums based on flood risk.

Skyrocketing rates prompted a grassroots effort called "Stop FEMA Now," which is targeting those programs and new flood maps that are putting a burden on home and property owners.

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In Congress, there was widespread bipartisan support to roll back the overhaul, but the group is still working toward helping homeowners rebuild at prices they can afford.

George Kasimos, of Toms River, began the effort after he learned he would have to raise his home four feet or else pay $30,000 in flood insurance. "Absolutely we feel like we've been effective, not only [for] the folks in New Jersey but across the country," he says. 

Insurance rates under the federal overhaul could have been up to 10 times higher than what homeowners are currently paying.

The current bill would limit annual increases of any individual policy in the National Flood Insurance Program to no more than 18 percent.

The bill delays the fight until 2017. Kasimos says a full overhaul of FEMA management, new maps and a better approach are needed.

The U.S. Senate still needs to vote on the bill in order for it to become law.

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