Congressman Crist visits Gulfport, stresses importance of flood insurance before hurricane season

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With hurricane season around the corner, lawmakers want to reiterate the importance of flood insurance.

Congressman Charlie Crist (D) FL, hosted a flood insurance round table discussion Tuesday in Gulfport.

Crist brought in housing and insurance representatives to discuss flood insurance reform.

Floridians account for nearly one-third of National Flood Insurance Program policyholders, with the state paying almost $1 billion annually into the program.

Ahead of the season, Crist wants to make sure Floridians are ready.

“We want to warn them that flood insurance is important,” said Crist.

The congressman sits on the House Financial Services Committee that oversees the National Flood Insurance Program.

Crist has been working to address affordability issues as Congress looks towards re-authorization of the program before it is set to expire on September 30th.

“We make sure that it’s affordable, that it doesn’t scalp homeowners, if you will, and gouge them,” said Crist.

Woody’s Waterfront owner, Marlene George, is used to the unexpected.

Last year, Tropical Storm Colin washed out her patio in St. Pete Beach.

“Every time there’s a bad storm, we get waves over the building,” said George.

George has flood insurance through FEMA for protection.

“You need flood insurance for protection for several reasons,” said George. “But, my flood insurance considering where I’m at is very reasonable. I know a lot of people complain, but I’m not complaining.”

Lawmakers hope to introduce bipartisan legislation to expand NFIP relief to more properties, including rentals and businesses, as well as a bill to help homeowners mitigate future damage when rebuilding after floods.

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