Wheeling Island Homeowners Unable to Sell Due to Skyrocketing Flood Insurance Premiums
By Kelsey Kennedy, Producer/Digital Journalist - email
WHEELING, W.Va -
On October 1, 2013, the Biggert-Waters Flood Act went into effect nationwide, sending the cost of a new flood insurance policy through the roof.
Bill and Tammy Gooch were looking to downsize and another young couple was ready to buy their riverfront home on North Front Street on Wheeling Island. The agreement was signed, inspections done, all the costs associated with selling the home paid.
The Gooches had already moved out when the buyers were forced out of the deal because their new flood insurance policy would cost almost $7,000 per year. That's almost six times the current amount.
"That's two dreams lost," says Tammy. "Three if you count the lady whose home we were going to buy."
For the past two months, Tammy and Bill have been paying their mortgage, rent, and two sets of utility bills. On Wednesday, they moved back into their own un-sellable home.
"The sad thing is we will never be able to sell this home," she says. "We'll never be able to give it away."
Since the Gooches have had their insurance policy since before June 1, 2012, they're grandfathered into their plan. However, their current premium is expected to rise by about 25% in the next year. They've lived on North Front Street for 15 years and have never filed a claim.
Insurance agent Bernie Glenn says commercial property owners are going to be hit harder. He says the reason for the increase is debt accumulated by FEMA due to recent natural disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
"FEMA was $25 billion in the hole, so they had to raise some money," he says. "I believe they've gone about it the incorrect way. They can get the money they need, if they just go back to the drawing board to try to get this right."
Glenn explains this affects everyone that lives in flood zones A or AE. If you live along the river or a creek, you're in one of those zones.
Congressman McKinley and Senator Manchin are co-sponsoring a bill to delay the rate increase and complete the feasibility study that was promised before the bill was enacted.