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Lee County gets 30-day reprieve on flood insurance downgrade

County officials say FEMA has granted the extension in an effort to allow the county to retain ranking that qualified it for a 25% discount.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 10:30 a.m. April 9, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Nearly a year after Hurricane Ian the clean up continues on Fort Myers Beach.
Nearly a year after Hurricane Ian the clean up continues on Fort Myers Beach.
Photo by Steffania Pifferi
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has given Lee County a 30-day extension to avoid a ratings downgrade that could raise resident’s flood insurance premiums by 25%.

The county says it was notified by FEMA in a letter about the extension and that staff was reviewing the details.

In a statement, the county says local leaders met with FEMA late Monday afternoon and that shortly thereafter received the letter granting the extension.

FEMA did not respond to an email Tuesday morning asking for confirmation of the letter or for details on what Lee must do to avoid the downgrade.

The county and several of its localities have been fighting for nearly two weeks now to avoid losing a discount that comes with its ranking in the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System.

The county’s current rating is a Class 5, which qualifies policy holders for the 25% discount.

On March 28, FEMA informed officials in Lee, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero and Fort Myers Beach that its rating would be downgraded to Class 10 beginning Oct. 1 and would no longer qualify for any discounts.

The agency has said the county did not meet the requirement to qualify to maintain the rating due to the large amount of unpermitted work, lack of documentation and a failure to properly monitor activity in special flood hazard areas, including substantial damage compliance.

Local leaders have disputed that, saying they complied with all the requirements.

Since the downgrade was announced, the county and localities have said they would try to overturn the decision. And FEMA has said it is “committed to helping communities take appropriate remediation actions” to maintain their rating status.

According to FEMA records, there are 139,658 NFIB policies in force in Lee, with coverage of $35.5 billion.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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