FEMA Blindsides Hurricane-Battered Community, Strips Locals Of Insurance Discount

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which handles federal disaster responses, revoked a discount on flood insurance for a community in Florida without giving clear warning, according to E&E News.

Around 125,000 property owners in Lee County, Florida, one of the most flood-prone counties in the country, had their 20 to 25% discount on flood insurance from FEMA revoked after local officials were warned about reportedly not complying with agency building safety demands that seek to protect homes from future disasters, according to E&E News. Locals say that the decision blindsided them as they were working to comply with standards set out by FEMA, such as the agency requesting 600 building permits for review from the county to check for compliance. (RELATED: Gas Prices Creeping Higher Again As Election Cycle Heats Up)

“At no time were we notified that we were in jeopardy of being retrograded,” Lee County Attorney Richard Wesch told E&E News. “It was, if you failed to comply with an information request, you could face a retrograde.”

Debris litters a mobile home park in Fort Myers, Florida, on September 29, 2022, one day after Hurricane Ian made landfall. – Hurricane Ian inundated cities, turned out the lights on millions of residents and left migrants from an overturned boat missing Thursday as Florida assessed damage from what the state governor described as a “500-year flood event.” (Photo by JOSEPH AGCAOILI/AFP via Getty Images)

BONITA SPRINGS, FL – SEPTEMBER 29: People walk along the beach looking at property damaged by Hurricane Ian on September 29, 2022 in Bonita Springs, Florida. The storm made a U.S. landfall on Cayo Costa, Florida, and brought high winds, storm surges, and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The discount, on average, saved locals around $370 annually on their policies, totaling around $35 million to $40 million in savings for just this year so far, according to E&E News. The discounted coverage will end on Sept. 30 and has been in place since 2007.

FEMA first notified Lee County in the middle of February that a lack of cooperation with standards could lead to a retraction of discounted coverage, according to E&E News.

The repair efforts in Lee County are in response to Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in Florida in 2022. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized FEMA in the months following the disaster for denying emergency funds to the state for home repairs.

An aerial view taken on September 29, 2022 shows piled up boats in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, in Fort Myers, Florida. – Hurricane Ian left much of coastal southwest Florida in darkness early on Thursday, bringing “catastrophic” flooding that left officials readying a huge emergency response to a storm of rare intensity. The National Hurricane Center said the eye of the “extremely dangerous” hurricane made landfall just after 3:00 pm (1900 GMT) on the barrier island of Cayo Costa, west of the city of Fort Myers. (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Boats piled up and destroyed by Hurricane Ian are seen on San Carlos Island in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, on November 7, 2022. (Photo by Giorgio VIERA / AFP) (Photo by GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images)

The skeleton of a 7Eleven store, one of the only structures left standing by Hurricane Ian, is seen in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on November 7, 2022, on the eve of the midterm elections. (Photo by GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images)

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 30: A volunteer (name not given) (L) and Ken Diesel help cook food for people in need after Hurricane Ian passed through on September 30, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. The Category 4 hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MATLACHA, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 05: In this aerial view, construction crews work around the clock to make temporary repairs to a bridge on the island of Matlacha on October 05, 2022 in Matlacha Florida. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivered remarks about the completion of the bridge to reconnect the island, and Pine Island as well, to the mainland during a press conference today. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

FORT MYERS BEACH, FLORIDA – JANUARY 25: In this aerial view, cleared lots are all that remain of some homes and businesses that were destroyed by Hurricane Ian on January 25, 2023 in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. The process of rebuilding continues four months after the hurricane passed. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The Biden administration announced in November 2022 that it had given $2 billion for Hurricane Ian recovery in Florida through flood insurance payments, federal grants and disaster loans.

“We are committed to helping these communities take appropriate remediation actions to participate in the Community Rating System again and work towards future policy discounts,” FEMA said in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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