In an effort to stop, delay, or change the projected increased flood insurance rates, the Riley County Commission invited federal delegation members, and the general public, to a flood insurance rate increase summit, held on Monday. Although none of the legislative members could make it, several sent representatives.
Several concerned residents were in attendance to share their stories and experiences. Many were concerned with the fact their rates could be doubled, or even tripled. Around 850 resident are expected to be impacted by the new flood plain maps, over 100 of which were not previously in the flood plain.
One man, who lives on the corner of Lilac and Dix, said he currently is paying just over $400 every month, and could soon be paying $9,500 annually. He mentioned he bought his home 11 years ago, before it was in the flood plain. He said he is a disabled veteran and there aren’t many other options of places for him to move to.
The man expressed frustration when telling a story about FEMA’s recommended solutions for his problem. In order to reduce his increasing rates, he said FEMA told him he could fill in his basement. The man stated this would mean eliminating two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a laundry room.
He commented, “I’m better off to burn my house”.
Another woman, who lives in the Northview area, mentioned her home is included in the 500 year flood plain category. She stated she has had flood insurance since before the 1993 flood, so she will be grandfathered in.
Although the woman had some complaints and concerns, she did commend Manhattan officials for making their requirements one foot higher than FEMA. The woman recommended members of the federal delegation take a tour of the areas that will be impacted, so they have a better idea of the severity of the issue.
Riley County Commissioner, Dave Lewis lives in the flood plain himself. He commented, “I moved there for a reason, because it was a house I could afford. The bucket of money we are talking about is going to drain the bucket of money we [flood plain residents]have”.
FEMA individuals and flood insurance rate specialists were in the audience to answer questions. A one-on-one coffee and pastry opportunity was made available during the middle of the summit, so people could address the federal delegation representatives as well.