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River towns hit hard by rising flood rates in Pa.

By: WJAC Web Staff and The Associated Press

HARRISBURG -- Congress sought to ease fears in seaside communities by rolling back dramatic price hikes for national flood insurance, but for many the pocketbook pain has only been delayed, like those living in several Pennsylvania communities, including Johnstown in Cambria County.

As many as 1.1 million policyholders with subsidized government insurance will still be hit with rate increases under a bill set to be signed by President Barack Obama.

Records analyzed by The Associated Press show there are communities in every state where the adjusted price hikes would make some properties unaffordable.

More than 34,000 homeowners and businesses in Pennsylvania will see their flood insurance rates rise as the federal government tries to shore up the National Flood Insurance Program.

Hundreds of small communities have so many homes or businesses in hazard zones that any sizeable price hikes could threaten to shutter shops and make houses tough to sell.

An analysis by the AP found that there are 57 cities and towns in Pennsylvania where at least 100 homes or businesses are facing some sort of price hike.

Those with the most are Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Bristol, Johnstown, Jersey Shore and Wilkes-Barre. Twenty-two have a population of less than 5,000.

In Pennsylvania, numerous river towns have downtowns that sit squarely within designated flood hazard zones and rising premiums could deliver a gut punch.

Jim Brett of the Brett Insurance Agency in Johnstown told the AP that no one will ever buy another building with this kind of flood insurance cost in towns like Johnstown that are starved for business investment.

Rates are rising because the National Flood Insurance Program is $24 billion in debt due to a series of catastrophic storms.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times