FEMA says flood insurance buyers need to pony up

Author: , Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published: Mar 26 2013 08:00:00 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 28 2013 06:16:41 AM EDT

Ron Donoso couldn't imagine living anywhere but beside the Delaware and he pays the price to do so.

"Highest of the three floods was about in this area here," he says while pointing to his first floor window, a good 20-25 feet above and 50 yards back from the river.

FEMA says the average policy holder pays $600 per year for federal flood insurance.

Not Donoso.

"Roughly about $3,000 per year and it keeps going up every year," he said.

Rates for this Raubsville, Northampton County homeowner and other dwellers near the water like him are expected to spike.

The head of FEMA said some paying hundreds for federal flood insurance could soon be paying thousands as Congress now says the program needs to be profitable.

Down the street, Sharyn Keiser and her grandkids head upstairs to get inside. After eight feet of flood water damaged much of the home several years ago, Keiser put her place on 14 foot stilts. It's an escape from rising water and rates. She says her flood insurance is now only $400 dollars per year.

"It's peaceful and tranquil. I think the river takes away your stress and washes it away-- until you see it rise again," she said.

Homeowners along this stretch of the Delaware River see rising water often. Donoso says a year ago water rose well into his backyard.

No matter how high the rates or water get, Donoso will stay. He's tried to sell but can't find a buyer. So for now he'll enjoy his beautiful but sometimes dangerous view.

Donoso said sometimes he considers it a blessing to live near the water, sometimes a curse.

FEMA says the rate hikes will take place over the next three to four years. Calls for comment from FEMA were not returned.