North Fort Myers family forced to have flood insurance

Reporter: Amy Galo
Published: Updated:

FEMA’s decision to get rid of its 25% discount for flood insurance is taking a toll on people all over Southwest Florida for different reasons.

Many tell WINK News they can’t afford the potential price increase. It’s forcing them to give up their dream homes and move.

But for one North Fort Myers family, it’s a different story.

Drayton Pelham didn’t think he needed flood insurance, but according to FEMA, it’s required in his location.

Pelham said the only options now are to sell the house and move, raise the house or stay and keep on paying.

Luckily, Pelham can afford the insurance, but that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

When Pelham and his family moved here in 2019, it was perfect.

“We found the house, got a good deal, had no problems,” Pelham said.

An extra perk, Coon Road wasn’t in a flood zone.

That is until FEMA changed its mind right after Hurricane Ian.

“We got thrown into a special flood hazard from FEMA, which drove our insurance costs up to the point where now we’re 45% more to have the house due to insurance costs,” Pelham said.

Pelham is now required to have FEMA flood insurance, which could increase by another 25%, but he doesn’t understand why.

His property is in zone A-E, which means it has a one percent or higher risk of experiencing a flood each year.

“We’re not on the water. We’re not close to the water, so it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Especially not in the context of Hurricane Ian.

“We just went through the most catastrophic storm to hit the area in history, and we had zero flooding within. I don’t even know how far from our door because I couldn’t find any flooding,” he said.

And when compared to other properties….

“It’s kind of absurd that we were put at the same flood height as downtown Fort Myers and higher than houses off of McGregor that are directly on the water. They flooded there. We didn’t,” Pelham said.

We reached out to FEMA to ask what placed this area under a high-risk category but never heard back.

Pelham said he hopes FEMA takes time to compare the current flood maps to what actually happened during Hurricane Ian and make the necessary revisions.

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