Residents of Sacramento’s flood-prone Natomas area stand to gain from federal government plans to limit their rising flood-insurance costs, according to Rep. Doris Matsui.
Some 25,000 people in Natomas will see their subsidized flood-insurance rates stop rising under the change, she said.
“According to what I’ve learned from FEMA, instead of flood insurance rates rising roughly 18 percent each year, homeowners in Natomas can now plan for flood insurance rates to either stay the same or decrease,” Matsui, a Democrat from Sacramento, said in an email.
Sacramento is considered to have a flood risk second only in the United States to New Orleans. Natomas, a large basin just north of downtown, is ringed by the Sacramento and American rivers and two creeks, and it has suffered from years under the risk of a devastating flood.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency shut down development in the once-vibrant community in 2008 following the discovery that water could seep through the levees protecting the area.
This news is a victory for Natomas residents.
Rep. Doris Matsui
FEMA’s strict building restrictions, which in many areas meant elevating new structures more than 20 feet, amounted to a de facto moratorium on construction for six years. The building restrictions were lifted last year as a result of progress on ongoing levee work, and the area was reclassified as an A99 flood zone, considered to be high risk but no longer as crucial.
Homeowners in Natomas are still required to purchase flood insurance and have been unable to get a lower-risk preferred policy rate. They instead are paying the “properties newly mapped” rate, which offers them a substantial discount over what they would pay with standard flood insurance but is subject to an annual rate increase of up to 18 percent.
FEMA plans to announce in April that A99 flood zones nationwide will be eligible for the preferred policy flood-insurance rate beginning this fall, according to Matsui’s office. That means the insurance rates in Natomas will no longer rise. They might even drop.
“This news is a victory for Natomas residents,” Matsui said. “I have been fighting to get lower and more predictable insurance rates for residents since 2008, when Natomas was remapped – and that day is close at hand.”
Flood insurance rates for Natomas averaged about $470 last year, according to data Matusi’s office collected from constituents. They could rise to around $555 this year under the 18 percent increase before the cap on rate increases goes into effect in October.
FEMA spokeswoman Susan Hendrick would not comment, saying only that “additional guidance is being developed regarding A99 zones and will be provided at a future date, once it is finalized.”