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Water-Related News

Flood insurance rates are spiking for many, to account for climate risk

FEMA says its new rates better reflect the risk from more intense and frequent rain and floods. The increase could make housing unaffordable for some in the most flood-prone areas.

The cost of federal flood insurance is rising for millions of homeowners, threatening to make homes in coastal areas unaffordable for many. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says its new rates better reflect flood risk in a warming climate.

There may be few places affected more by the new risk rating system than the Florida Keys, where the average elevation on the chain of islands off Florida's peninsula is just over 3 feet above sea level. Almost all homeowners are required to carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage.

On Big Pine Key, after years of looking for a house she could afford, Amy Tripp and her husband were finally able to buy a home recently. "It was damaged in [Hurricane] Irma," Tripp says. "It was totally gutted and has a new roof."

The high cost of housing has long been a major problem in the Florida Keys, and the couple purchased the home through the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity.