Byron Donalds ask FEMA to restore discount
6 mins read

Byron Donalds ask FEMA to restore discount


Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, as well as House Representatives Byron Donalds and Greg Stubbe, urged FEMA to reconsider its decision last week to downgrade the flood management rating of Lee County and four municipalities to the lowest possible category , which will eliminate the 25% discount. Residents previously enjoyed the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Calling the decision “devastating” for Lee County families and small businesses, elected officials said it is important that the federal government work with counties and municipalities to ensure that the rating change does not take effect on October 1. ,

He urged FEMA to reinstate the exemption to homeowners.

“In the wake of the disaster recovery and skyrocketing inflation, Lee County residents now face an even higher cost of living as a result of this decision,” read the letter, “We urge you to immediately thoroughly review this decision, respect the original waivers, and meet with local leaders to resolve any issues and keep the NFIP waivers in place.”

Lee County loses National Flood Insurance Plan exemption

Every three years the National Flood Insurance Program conducts a field visit to audit flood management activities and flood-mapping records. After each audit, municipal governments receive a rating from the Class Rating System program using a 1-10 rating system. Class 10 is the lowest; Class 1 highest.

class rating system A voluntary federal program that recognizes and encourages community flood management activities that exceed minimum NFIP standards by providing incentive premium rebates. Discounts are given in 5% increments using a rating system. For the past 17 years, Lee County has been awarded a Class 5 rating, resulting in a 25% discount for residents enrolled in the NFIP.

More: FEMA cuts flood insurance rebates in Lee County by 25%, blames unpermitted construction

Only two municipalities in Lee County, the city of Sanibel and Fort Myers, are not affected by the decision. But homeowners in Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers Beach and unincorporated Lee County, which includes Lehigh Acres, Matlacha and the vulnerable barrier island Pine Island, will all lose their NFIP exemptions.

In the year and a half since Hurricane Ian, FEMA representatives have visited sites in Lee County and observed how locally adopted flood management ordinances are being enforced, an email from the agency's communications desk said , and it was found to be deficient.

The email also said the lower category rating and subsequent loss of exemption was due to “a large amount of unpermitted work, lack of documentation, and failure to appropriately monitor activity in special flood hazard areas, including adequate damage compliance”. Caused by.

Lee County blames FEMA, says feds didn't tell them waiver was in jeopardy

At a meeting earlier this week, Lee County officials blamed FEMA for the change in rating and said they were never given any notice that they were at risk of losing the NFIP exemption.

County Manager Dave Harner said, “We were not informed at any time that we were in danger of retrograde.” Had they done so, he said, they would have taken action to avoid the downgrade. Horner also said staff provided all the information in a timely manner and he was surprised by FEMA's decision.

Ultimately, the County Board of Commissioners decided to send someone to Washington to discuss the change in rating and attempt to appeal the decision, as emails and phone calls have not been successful.

“This is a huge issue for our county,” Commissioner Brian Hammon said at Tuesday’s meeting.

More: FEMA's mistake? Lee Commission will push for FEMA to cut flood insurance rebates

Now, federal representatives have agreed to the decision, offering their support to Lee County residents through a letter to FEMA Administrator Dean Crispwell. The letter said the cost of living in Lee County has increased since Ian, with housing costs rising as thousands of people are displaced into rental units while waiting for their homes to be repaired.

According to the Waller, Weeks & Johnson Rental Index, which is updated monthly, the average cost of a one-bedroom in the area hovers around $2,200. The average rent for a one-bedroom in the US is just over $1,900 per month.

According to a study by, Florida average fare sits at $2,095, and the average one-bedroom rent in Naples is $1,922, which is lower than the national average calculated by the Waller, Weeks & Johnson Rental Index.

Some residents have still not returned to their homes.

And Florida property owners already pay four times the national average for home insurance The national average tripled last year alone, The cost of homeowner's insurance increased by an average of more than 40% in the past year.

More: Florida ranks tops in the US for home insurance rates. What's next as 'explosive' hurricane season approaches

“Since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Lee County and caused widespread devastation across Southwest Florida, we have struggled to rapidly recover from this deadly storm,” the letter reads. “While we appreciated FEMA's prompt response immediately following the storm, we are discouraged by the agency's recent actions. FEMA's recent decision to reduce rebates and increase premiums for some NFIP policyholders in Lee County is likely to create another unacceptable increase. Costs for Southwest Florida families and businesses.

“We look forward to working with FEMA to maintain the NFIP waiver in Lee County as we continue to fight against high costs for Florida families.”

kate cimini is the Florida investigative reporter for USA TODAY-Network Florida, based at The News-Press and The Naples Daily News. Contact him at 239-207-9369 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.