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Sandy Victim Says FEMA Flood Maps Have Caused Insurance Costs To Spike

HIGHLANDS, NJ(CBSNewYork) -- Talk about paying a premium. Home insurance rates have gone through the roof for many people rebuilding after Sandy.

As CBS2's Meg Baker reported, one woman spent tens of thousands of dollars making upgrades she thought she had to, only to find out now that she can't get insurance.

"Initially I thought it was a mistake. When I submitted it they said everything was fine and my new bill would be about $650. Upon the renewal date I received a bill of $34,000," Claudette D'Arrigo said.

The shocking $34,000 flood insurance price tag came after D'Arrigo reconstructed her home post-Hurricane Sandy in accordance with FEMA advisory plans.

Residents were told the new rules would go into effect in August. By complying D'Arrigo's premium would have dropped to $650, but the new rules have been stalled.

August came and went, now D'Arrigo received a letter stating that per FEMA the new flood map will be delayed until 2016. She didn't have tens of thousands of dollars to pay her bill so now she is uninsured.

Highlands Flood Plain Administrator Dale Luebner approved construction plans for D'Arrigo's home on behalf of FEMA, based on the proposed maps, now dude to take effect in 2016.

If homeowners decide to build using the old maps they will have to alter their homes once the new maps go into effect, or build to future maps now like D'Arrigo did and pay high insurance premiums until 2016.

"All we ask now is for the maps to be adopted much quicker than 2016," Leubner said.

George Kasimos with Stop FEMA Now, a group advocating on the behalf of residents stuck in this lose-lose situation, said that D'Arrigo did what she was supposed to do.

"She did everything right. She did what Governor Christie said, get back in your house. When does this stop? This is two years after Sandy," he said.

"Senator Menendez and Senator Booker both took my case on. Menendez brought it to Washington in July, and argued my case before the senate floor to move forward to have the adoption of the new FEMA maps," D'Arrigo said.

The senator's key piece of legislation, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act, would help homeowners like D'Arrigo take advantage of a subsidy to help pay her a high insurance premium for the time being.

Highlands Councilman Doug Card calls on the governor to also get involved.

"We have a governor. Step up to the plate," Card said.

D'Arrigo is the only resident out of 22 on Sea Drift Ave that has rebuilt and been able to move back into her home.

More than 150 families from Highlands are still not back in their homes.

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