A national flood insurance law that went into effect Wednesday will raise the costs of flood insurance for many local coastal residents.
The rise in flood insurance premiums is an attempt to help pay off the FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program’s $24 billion dollar debt - a debt that swelled in the wake of costs incurred by payouts made following Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.
There are 260 homes in Slaughter Beach, and 160 of them have flood insurance. With the new Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 in effect, year-round residents in Slaughter Beach and other adjacent coastal communities could pay as much as 10 percent more for flood insurance. And seasonal homeowners could pay as much as 25 percent more.
In Slaughter Beach, mayor Bill Krause says that insurance costs have ballooned in large part due to the town’s changed baseline flood elevation.
“Apparently there is a greater risk premium for some houses than there used to be because the baseline elevation went up in our town. It went up by about three feet,” said Krause.
The town is currently in a zone where new buildings have to be raised one foot above the baseline elevation. Krause says they’re working on measures to help homes and other buildings anticipate damages from increasing floods.
“Things as a town we can do to mitigate it are better storm defenses, higher dunes in the front, working with the wildlife refuge to prevent flooding coming in from the back of the town. Hopefully no one ever has to use their health insurance.”
Despite the increasing costs of living along the shoreline, Bill Krause, mayor of Slaughter Beach, says that the rising prices likely won’t cause residents to move out of the area.
"The [residents here] call Slaughter Beach the jewel of the Delaware Bay," said Krause. "Everyone wants to live here. It's terrific. So, if they have t pay a little more, they understand."