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WV legislators worried about flood insurance spikes

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The West Virginia House of Delegates leadership team plans to urge members of U.S. Congress to address flood insurance premiums they described as "drastic."

"West Virginia residents and small business owners who work hard are being hit with shockingly high flood insurance costs," said House Speaker Tim Miley. "I don't believe that the people in Washington, D.C., realize the effect the changes to the National Flood Insurance Program are having on people who are living in low flood-risk areas here in West Virginia."

In 2012, Congress passed a flood insurance reform act intended to bolster the National Flood Insurance Program, which is deeply in debt following disasters such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina.

Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, said many people in his northern panhandle district are receiving notice of premium hikes.

"It is our understanding that rates for homes that are inland – such as homes in my district in the Ohio Valley – are skyrocketing to compensate for the losses in coastline areas that have been hit so hard in recent years," Swartzmiller said. "While we believe in providing federal disaster aid, the effect in this instance is that homeowners and business-owners who are not facing a significant flood risk are being forced to pay for the loss of beach-front dwellings vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes."

Miley said House leadership members intend to introduce at the outset of the 2014 session a resolution to shed light on how West Virginians are being penalized and to ask Congress to revisit the 2012 insurance act.

"That simply isn't fair," Swartzmiller added.