SCITUATE (CBS) — Concerned homeowners came together at Mill Wharf Plaza on Saturday morning as part of a nationwide protest of new federal flood insurance guidelines.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating flood maps across the country and changing hazard zones, which greatly affects flood insurance premiums. Many homeowners who have never before carried flood insurance are now being told by their mortgage companies that they need to have it.
“I’m here because I’m outraged and you should be, too,” Attorney General Martha Coakley told the crowd of hundreds, encouraging them to “make noise” within their communities.
“It went totally bizarre,” said Margaret Sullivan of her flood insurance premium that rose from about $1,300 last year to more than $67,000. Sullivan admits her place on Turner Road is an area that could easily flood, but says there’s no way to afford that kind of insurance premium increase. She’s likely to drop flood insurance on the home she’s owned for 37 years.
“If we need to sell the house for any reason, then what do we do?” Sullivan said.
Realtors said the planned changes to FEMA flood maps will devastate homeowners in the region.
“What we’re asking the federal government to do is to give us time to work through this so people don’t lose their homes,” Realtor Carol Bulman told the rally, which included elected officials from every level of government.
“We only make a certain amount of money a year. We can’t afford this,” said Brenda Willard. Her flood insurance bill has gone up 25 percent in recent months.
Steve and Michelle Dorsey attended the rally, hosted by the Scituate Coastal Coalition and the Marshfield Citizens Coastal Coalition, unsure of exactly how much money they’ll have to fork out in the months to come. They do know FEMA’s new flood zones were extended to include their property for the first time.
“We’ve worked hard all our lives and we were hoping to enjoy our home forever, but it doesn’t look like an option,” said Michelle Dorsey, who estimates the cost to insure her home will go up at least $10,000 in the first year alone.
Attorney General Coakley pledged to do what she could to help the distressed homeowners, but reminded them that the flood maps are a federal issue. Any changes to the FEMA maps will require congressional action.