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Do Flood Insurance Hikes Spell the End of Coastal Living?

Topsail Beach, North Carolina

The National Flood Insurance Program is working its way out of bankruptcy following Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy--but its plan involves sharp premium increases for coastal property owners. This population includes more than 17,000 North Carolinians--many of whom stand to have their flood insurance rates triple this year. Coastal community leaders are busy voicing their concern to federal and state legislators. To strengthen their argument at the federal level, leaders from communities such as Topsail Beach plan to band together across North and South Carolina’s coast.

Many coastal citizens may end up risking life without flood insurance. This is according to Howard Braxton, mayor of Topsail Beach. But the more likely scenario, he says, involves a fast exodus of property owners who can’t afford to pay flood insurance increases that –at rates that can exceed thirty-thousand dollars--amount to more than many homeowners’ mortgages.

"If people want to sell, they usually try to sell now, before the summer. And so, now is the time for that. Unfortunately, we’ve also had several deaths on the island because of the age, and I don’t know what they’re gonna do with their homes. The families say, ‘We want it, but we can’t afford it.’ So I don’t know what they’re gonna do."

Braxton is also concerned about Mike McIntyre leaving office, as he says the Democratic U.S. Representative championed coastal protective measures, such as beach renourishment. Braxton says he’ll be asking public officials across the North and South Carolina Coastline to join him in Raleigh, where he’ll work with insurance companies and regulators to devise alternative solutions.