Lawmakers Allege FEMA Decision Could Ravage Florida's Lee County

Lawmakers Allege FEMA Decision Could Ravage Florida's Lee County

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
April 4, 2024

Lee County officials recently publicly criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to remove Lee County’s residents’ eligibility for flood insurance discounts. 

According to a Lee County press release, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) had been granting residents premium discounts that allowed policyholders to save up to 25%.

FEMA’s decision to cut flood insurance discounts for Lee County residents was allegedly made without prior notice.

“For the federal government to have made this decision without any prior discussions seems punitive,” said Lee Board of County Commission Chairman Mike Greenwell. 

Lee County was recently decimated by Hurricane Ian and has been recovering since then. 

“Ian was the third costliest hurricane to hit the United States, and many of our residents are still reeling financially from its impacts,” continued Chairman Greenwell. 

Nearly one million residents could be impacted by FEMA’s decision, per Lee County government estimates. 

Lee County calculations allege NFIP discounts save residents $14-$17 million annually. 

FEMA justified its decision by alleging Lee County permitted a “large amount of unpermitted work, lack of documentation, and failure to properly monitor activity in special flood hazard areas, including substantial damage compliance.”

Lee County officials deny such claims.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Dan Allers explained his city “has always gone above and beyond to maintain our CRS rating.” 

National lawmakers joined local officials in requesting FEMA reconsider its decision. 

US Senators Rick Scott (R-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Byron Donalds (R-FL) and Gregory Steube (R-FL) sent a joint letter asking for maintaining NFIP discounts. 

“In the wake of disaster recovery and skyrocketing inflation, Lee County residents now face even higher living costs as a result of this decision. We urge you to immediately conduct a thorough review of this decision, honor the original discounts and meet with local leaders to remedy any issues and keep NFIP discounts in place,” reads the letter

FEMA not yet responded to either the Lee County press release or congressional letter. 


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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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