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Flood premium hikes could leave some drowning in insurance costs

By Kaitlin Loukides
Published On: Mar 25 2014 04:42:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 01:44:08 PM CDT

Flood insurance premiums could be rising with the tide

POCATELLO, Idaho -

For homeowners in Pocatello, living through this past summer's floods was enough to encourage many people to purchase flood insurance, but for others, the expensive premiums are only about to get worse.

Since the federal government approved its latest budget, significant cuts were made in order to help fund the National Flood Insurance Program's $24 billion deficit caused by the abundant strikes of nationwide floods this past year.

This now means more than 1,400 homes in the state will be paying higher premiums in order to make-up for these cuts.

The city's Engineering Department head Dierdre Castillo said local homeowners are already paying about $1,200 each year in flood insurance, and the rates people pay depend on what zone they live in. Meaning, the more at risk you are, the higher your premium is.

And those who live along the Portneuf River aren't the only ones located in a flood plain area.

Castillo said there are two types of flooding: one is from the river, which is taken care of by the levy system, and the other is from inland drainage.

"That would mean a big storm up on the foothills with the water coming down and not being able to get to the river fast enough," Castillo said. "This is what is causing quite a bit of the flooding."

Tim Stronks, the vice president of Personal Line at the Farm Bureau Insurance Agency said the hikes mean people might have to pay as much as 18 percent more each year, and 25 percent for people whose second home is also in flood zone.

Walking around the Pocatello neighborhoods along the Portneuf River, many homeowners who chose not to go on the record said their homes are already paid-off, however flood insurance is too expensive to afford.

Terry McFarland is one homeowner who said he has seen how bad the damage was after this past summer's flooding and believes that although the premiums are expensive, it's better than losing everything he owns to a flood.

"I know people are thinking it's pretty expensive," McFarland said. "but then all you need is one of those freak summer storms to wipe you out." 

To see which homes are situated along the flood plain, you can visit the city Engineering Dept.'s interactive map at https://webmap.pocatello.us/public.

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