Cape Coral Mayor speaks on FEMA CRS rating decision

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:

Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter addressed the Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Rating System (CRS) decision to rescind a 25% discount from residents’ flood insurance policies.

He spoke to the media at a news conference Wednesday afternoon at his office located at 1015 Cultural Park Boulevard.

FEMA sent Lee County multiple letters. At least three of them say something along the lines of “failure to enforce these regulations may result in sanctions against the community, including retrograde of Community Rating System (CRS) class, probation, or suspension from the [National Flood Insurance Program].”

A retrograde of CRS class would take away homeowners’ 25% flood insurance discounts.

Tuesday, Lee County responded to each letter and argued that FEMA never said homeowners would lose that discount.

Gunter addressed the retrograde of the CRS class from FEMA, stating in a letter sent in December of 2023 that documentation of 238 properties out of 100,000 Cape Coral properties needed to be reviewed to see if substantial damages had occurred from Hurricane Ian.

Of the 238 properties needing further examination, 184 had resolved the abovementioned issue.

Fifty-four properties are still under evaluation as to whether a violation had occurred.

FEMA claims that unpermitted work had begun with the remaining properties in Cape Coral.

If the downgrade is to occur, residents will experience an increase in flood insurance premiums.

“Despite the outcome of our appeal to FEMA, the city will continue all efforts to obtain a higher discount,” said Gunter. “We will not abandon our beliefs in this system.”

Gunter then mentioned reaching out to U.S. Congressman Byron Donalds and Senator Rick Scott’s offices to help appeal the decision.

He then said that Congressman Donalds’ office would do whatever action possible to assist in the cause.

When asked about FEMA’s response on Thursday, Gunter stated that the organization made a blanket statement with baseless assumptions regarding the evaluation process.

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