Rising flood insurance costs trouble homeowners

- The Flippen's house on Valkeith is just about one year old, but they've actually lived here since 2012. 

“We were required to either elevate the home or rebuild."

That's because of the infamous Memorial Day floods in 2015. They are still required to have flood insurance, but because it is elevated they get a discount.

Across the street, John Bell is still waiting on the final permits to get his home repaired after the same flood plus the subsequent Tax Day Flood.  He's bracing for the possible insurance hike.

“I don't know when. It might be that it's really expensive. The only way to is to raise your house a foot above flood level so it won't be as expensive," Bell said.

If he could even afford it. He applied for FEMA aid to do that, but he was denied. 

The cost of federal flood insurance could be about to drown some homeowners. The program is almost $25 billion in debt. It's struggling to stay afloat.  Premiums seem destined to rise, how much depends on if you are in a flood plain or not. Some could rise to $8,000.

So how did we get in this mess? Blame congress. In 2012, Congress tried to reform the program. It didn't work out that well. Finally it passed something, but that 5-year extension will expire in September.

In some areas uncertainty over that insurance has slowed down the real estate market. Broker Scott Schuermann says some  people have taken the insurance money from the flood and run. Developers have come into Meyerland and are tearing down damaged houses and building larger elevated ones.

“Probably 25 percent more are for sale in the past year. Some of them are the ones who have come and bought the houses that were flooded and updated and are just selling now," Schuermann said.

While he thinks the neighborhood will continue to thrive, some older residents on fixed incomes might have to sell. For the Flippens, that means losing some of what made this place so desirable.

“I hope not. It's a wonderful neighborhood and I think people are really dedicated to the neighborhood so hopefully it won't come to that."

We'll see what happens come September.


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