Despite Predictions, Florida Hurricane Season Is Quiet
Last spring, meteorologists had Florida residents worried with predictions of an unusually active hurricane season in the state.
They forecast between 13 and 20 named tropical storms with up to 11 of them developing into hurricanes. However, here we are over halfway through hurricane season, and we have not seen a single storm. Experts warn, however, that we are not through, and a storm could yet strike. Hurricane season lasts until November 1, and there is plenty of time for a serious or even record-breaking storm to develop. Since meteorologists began recording hurricanes in 1851, there have been 20 incidents of inactive hurricane seasons that suddenly burst into life after September 3. In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association updated its predictions and said that there could still be three to five major hurricanes to strike the state. Dr. Gerry Bell of the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said, “Our confidence for an above-normal season is still high because the predicted atmospheric and oceanic conditions that are favorable for storm development have materialized.”
Hurricane Season May Be Quiet, but a Storm Is Brewing in the Senate over Flood Insurance Rates
This year, however, we have more cause than ever to hope for continued calm. Until last summer, those living in low-lying areas were eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance, but when the National Flood Insurance Program announced that it was $1.8 billion in debt last year, Congress agreed to major reforms. Under the terms of the Biggert-Water’s Act, new flood maps were created, and subsidies were cut. Now, in a matter of a few months, homeowners are facing vastly increased insurance rates.
The average home located in a low-lying area will see a 20% annual increase so that homeowners who pay $2,000 in flood insurance will pay $5,000 annually in five years.This has major consequences on the real estate market, and realtors are already reporting that potential buyers are backing out after learning the insurance rates they will be forced to pay. Real estate experts are also afraid that property values will plummet, leaving thousands of people stuck with homes they once thought were secure investments. Perhaps the most significant drawback of the act is the effect it will have on individual families.
As U.S. Representative Maxine Waters wrote in a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Biggert-Water’s Act has “devastating impacts” and will “force families out of their homes.”
Now the Biggert-Water’s Act is under review in the Senate, and most Florida lawmakers hope that the increased premiums can be delayed. As
Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana says, “Flood insurance is not just about business and commerce; it is about culture; it is about a way of life; it is about preserving coastal communities; it is about being resilient in storms.”
As the debate heats up on the Senate floor, let us hope that the current hurricane season remains unusually calm. A major storm at this stage in the game could negatively influence those who are leaning towards delaying the increased premiums, and when Florida citizens are already reeling from the aftermath of a major hurricane, they could also be hit with the news of vastly increased premiums. We applaud Ms. Landrieu’s sentiments; as Florida citizens, we are proud of our resilience and our ability to rebuild and start again. Though the spirit of Florida citizens can never be crushed, the Biggert-Water’s Act would be a low blow to those already at risk of disaster. Come what may, Lawlor, Winston, White & Murphey stand ready to help homeowners recover appropriate compensation when a hurricane strikes and insurers are slow to pay. Contact us for a free consultation.
About the Author:
Andrew Y Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”