FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Imagine opening a flood insurance bill and finding out that it's now almost 12 times more than it was the year before.
One Florence County woman said that's exactly what happened to her.
"I opened up a notice out of my mailbox, from FEMA on Thursday, and it went up from $347 some odd dollars a year to $4,133 a year," said Joyce Thompson, who has lived along the Lynches River since 2002. "I just thought I was going to have a heart attack standing at the mailbox. That is unreal. I really thought I was looking at it wrong."
WMBF News emailed and made calls to FEMA and was eventually direct to the Florence County Planning Office.
While each insurance case is different, Florence County Planning said Thompson would have to check with her insurer. However, a few things may have happened.
Shawn Breshear, a Florence County building official, said new flood maps came out for the county back in 2014. Sometimes mortgage lenders don't make the immediate adjustments to rates, he added.
"It could be that some banks early on took action as soon as the maps came out. It could be that the mortgage holders are just now experiencing it because the banks lagged behind," Breshear said.
Breshear went on to say another issue could be an error was made during the policy writing.
"If an owner happens to notice that an insurance rate it outrageous and they want to go across the street to a different writer on insurer and there is a discrepancy between those rates, that should raise a red flag because the rates are set by FEMA," Breshear said.
While there are a litany of reasons flood insurance rates can change, Bershear said that individuals can always choose to fight the insurance company to get their home and property out of a flood zone.
If that engineer finds an individual's property is not prone to flooding, that person could file an amendment and get the insurance dropped from the home.
As for Thompson, she said that she paid off her mortgage so she didn't have to put up with the hassle.
"I think someone needs to investigate this because the federal government should not be able to kick us when we are trying to recover from October's flood," Thompson said.