One called the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 a "criminal act."
Others said the federal law will all but bankrupt homeowners, while harming communities, depleting tax bases and destroying real estate markets.
Property owners, business people and local government officials all testified as to the hurt it will cause during a special hearing held Wednesday at Pennsylvania College of Technology by the Lycoming County Planning and Community Development Department.
Jeff Waltman, of Muncy, tells the audience his experience with new flood insurance rates during a special hearing held Wednesday by the Lycoming County Planning Commission at Pennsylvania College of Technology. A new law will cause rates to skyrocket for about 5,300 parcels in the county.
Visitors listen to presenters during a special hearing Wednesday night arranged by the Lycoming County Planning Commission.
This slide shows how homeowners are or will be affected by the changing flood insurance policies. The new law, which already has been passed by Congress, requires a hike in insurance rates as a means to bolster the federal insurance program, which is some $26 billion in debt following a series of hurricanes and major flooding nationwide in recent years.
Passed by Congress, the law was intended to help the once-sustainable federal insurance program, which now is some $26 billion in debt following a series of hurricanes and major flooding nationwide in recent years.
As a result, property owners living in flood zones suddenly are seeing their insurance premiums skyrocket overnight.
All told, about 5,300 parcels in the county are in a flood zone, including about 50 percent of Jersey Shore, 40 percent of Muncy and 30 percent of Montgomery.
Todd Arthur, a Muncy property owner and businessman, is just one example of someone who will feel the severe impact of higher flood insurance premiums.
The coverage for his business site in downtown Muncy is increasing from $1,200 per year to $13,400 annually.
He said the pain is being felt all over the community.
Arthur, a real estate appraiser, said he's seen home sales in Muncy hurt by the new law. Homeowners are having a hard time selling their properties.
"It doesn't appear flood-plain properties will maintain their former values," he said.
Muncy Bank & Trust President and CEO Dan Berninger noted that his bank already is seeing an impact. He cited an example of one property owner in the community who watched his insurance rates leap from $1,000 to $9,500 per year.
"I believe no one really thought about the consequences of the Biggert-Waters Act," Berninger said.
The rate increases, he said, are not only unfair but threaten real estate markets and tax bases.
"I know I will never be able to sell my home," said Paul Garrett, a recently elected Jersey Shore Borough councilman.
Garrett said his home is located at what he called "ground zero," next to the Susquehanna River.
He predicted the new law will result in people simply walking away from their homes and giving riverfront communities such as Jersey Shore over to the "slumlords."
DuBoistown Borough Councilman Michael Caschera said residents in communities such as his cannot afford the higher rates.
"This will have far-ranging effects on everyone," he said.
Loyalsock Township resident Jerry Walls, former director of county planning, said many river communities in the state will be severely impacted at a time when reinvestment is under way in many of those same municipalities.
Half of the properties in Jersey Shore are losing their former values as a result of the law, said real estate broker Jim McLane.
Dan McClelland, a member of the Jersey Shore Planning Commission, said the law needs to be repealed.
At least two bills have been introduced in Congress to either alleviate the burden on homeowners or at least delay the rate increases.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, said help could be on the way.
"This is not a problem without a political solution," he said.
Lycoming County Commissioners Jeff Wheeland and Tony Mussare said it's an issue on the county's radar screen.
"You think the health care act is bad? That is nothing compared to this," Mussare said.