SARASOTA COUNTY, FL - Right now some state and federal lawmakers are trying to at least delay huge increases in flood insurance policies before the end of the year. It's believed more than 30,000 policies in Sarasota and Manatee county alone have seen increases upwards of 500%.
While the politicians are working to the last minute to come up with some sort of solution many of our neighbors are still struggling for answers. "We are still waiting for the government to do something." Englewood resident Laure Lewis is still trying to figure out how to afford flood insurance for her modest 1960 two bedroom home near Lemon Bay. Facing an increase from around $1,200 a year to nearly $7,000. "I can go into my savings retirement and come up with a one time payment. But to have to come up with it every year and it is supposed to go up is out of my realm of being."
"People are looking for answers and they are not getting what they want to hear." Insurance agent Eric Fogo with Key Agency in Englewood says the area is full of policies just like Laure's. He says they're following closely the late push by politicians for relief but doesn't expect much to happen quickly. "We are telling people right now they have to swallow that pill. It's not a fun pill to swallow. It's expensive and until there is legislation fixing it, it's here."
An attempt Wednesday to fast track a bill by senators like Bill Nelson failing. A trio of house members including local Congressman Vern Buchanan trying to delay the increases for at least 15 months until FEMA can conduct an affordability study.
Laure says she's waiting before paying. "The advise I am getting is to sit tight on this and not pay the money up front. It's harder to get the money back after you have already sent it." Concerned that route could obviously leave her uncovered, impacting her credit score and threatening her mortgage.
FEMA representatives say the increases are necessary because they are $24 billion in debt. Laure says she feels like she's being shaken down for a portion of it.
"I feel like they are trying to force me out. You don't want me to be a player in the American dream anymore. That's the way I feel. "
That clock is ticking. The will break for the rest of the year and the end of next week.