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New Jersey Senators Warn New FEMA Guidelines Would Raise Flood Insurance Premiums

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- While many homeowners are still trying to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, some U.S. Senators warn new FEMA guidelines are expected to prompt flood insurance premiums to increase nationwide.

The floors inside Blue Ribbon Wine and Liquor on 1st and Adams Street in Hoboken are damaged - covered by rugs due to Hurricane Ida last month.

The store is near Nelys Moyeno's home. Moyeno said there are still cracks inside her home that she hasn't been able to fix from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

"I had extensive damage. I had four feet of water, and I had so much loss," said Moyeno, whose home is part of the roughly 80% of Hoboken considered to be in a flood zone.

Moyeno, living on a fixed income, said it's hard to keep up with the bills. She's one of millions who use the National Flood Insurance Program run by FEMA.

"They're quick to collect their premiums. But when it comes to providing the assistance, it does take time. You have to do a lot of paperwork, go through a lot of red tape. It's really frustrating," Moyeno said.

The frustration is going to build more. This week, FEMA changed the formula for premiums.

Instead of basing it on things like where the property is and the base elevation, it will evaluate how close a property is to the water and the cost of rebuilding. It's due in part to climate change creating stronger storms.

Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker of New Jersey are part of the group asking FEMA to postpone the change.

They said, "... nearly 20% of all policyholders will drop out of the program over the next 10 years in large part due to unaffordable premiums."

It's one way FEMA will pay back what it owes to the U.S. Treasury.

"The computer models suggest that more of our rain in the future is going to fall in larger events," said Dr. David Robinson, a professor at Rutgers University and climatologist. "Sea level is rising. So a run-of-the-mill storm today will have the potential of doing more damage in the decades ahead."

Since Sandy, many towns have made efforts to limit flood damage from future storms, but it's unclear if that will be taken into account.

FEMA declined an on-camera interview, but told CBS2 it expects more people to purchase flood insurance because individuals will no longer pay more than their share in premiums based on the value of their homes.

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