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Queens Residents Protest Pending Flood Insurance Rate Hikes

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TWC News: Queens Residents Protest Pending Flood Insurance Rate Hikes
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A new law passed last year to make sure the National Flood Insurance Program does not go bankrupt could have an adverse affect on the people the program is supposed to help, and thousands across the country came out to protest the act Saturday, including hundreds in Broad Channel. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

It was standing room only at the Broad Channel American Legion Saturday, as hundreds poured into the parking lot for a rally protesting the Biggert-Waters Act, a law that takes away insurance subsidies for those in flood-prone areas and sets rates based on risk.

Homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy said it is yet another blow.

"I will be losing my home, and I could very well be homeless," said Danny Latham, a Breezy Point resident.

For many, money is tight now after dealing with repairs from the storm, and the idea of premiums going up by thousands in some cases seems impossible to deal with.

"Right now I'm paying $458 for flood insurance with a mortgage," said Palmer Doyle, one of the rally's organizers. "If they raise my insurance to $9,000, I'm a disabled, retired New York City fireman. Where do I come up $9,000?"

Residents from Broad Channel, Howard Beach and the Rockaways joined several other coordinated rallies across the country. They hope that their voices raised in unison will lead a repeal of the law, or at least a change.

"The fact that we have Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Hawaii today, down in the Alligator Festival in Louisiana today, all across the country in nine states joining with us, I think it's going to help because you need allies in the fight," said Dan Mundy, president of the Broad Channel Civic Association.

As it stands, the law calls for some policy holders that currently receive subsidies to pay 25 percent more each year until premiums reflect their true risk.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to conduct a study looking at how to make the new rates affordable, but that won't be done for two years.

"I have found very little leeway, as much as I have tried, in how we can address affordability under the current provisions of the law as enacted," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.

Rally organizers said that Rep. Maxine Waters has shown her support for the cause. She said that lawmakers had not intended for insurance premiums to rise so dramatically. Protesters said they will work on getting more lawmakers on their side.

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