LONG BEACH, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to put what he calls their under-the-radar Risk Rating 2.0 plan to reform the National Flood Insurance Program on hold until critical questions are answered.
"If flood insurance becomes so expensive that people can't afford it, their dreams will be washed away," he said. "They're saying they're going to put in new insurance rates based on logical rating variables. If you don't know what that means, join the club. Neither do we."
Schumer is demanding transparency. He says If flood insurance goes up, property values will go down.
"The NFIP was designed to promote life in coastal communities like Long Beach," acting Long Beach City Manager Rob Agostisi said. "Instead, its new program is designed to snuff it out."
Without a halt from Congress, the new rates for all single-family homes could potentially go into effect nationwide in October 2020.
Residents we spoke with say it's an unfair back door tax.
"I'm not prepared for my flood rates to be tripled. I can't afford it," said one resident. "I'd have to sell the house."
"They have to revisit this really, really seriously," said another.
This is just another headache people are dealing with nearly seven years after Superstorm Sandy. In the Town of Hempstead, about 13,000 homeowners were sent letters stating they may have to do more work to mitigate their homes against flooding. Why? Damage inspections that the town conducted in the days and weeks following the storm notifying residents if their homes needed work were never sent to homeowners.
This coupled with the potential for flood insurance increases would put thousands in an even bigger bind.
"They were just fixing their house as their family still lived in the house, they may not have gotten permits," said Supervisor Laura Gillen with the Town of Hempstead. "If they didn't get a permit then they had no idea of the designation because the Town didn't tell them."
In a statement to FOX 5 NY, FEMA said the agency is working to ensure members of Congress understand this process and looks forward to their continued partnership in this effort so everyone has a full understanding of the Risk Rating 2.0 transformation.