National Hurricane Conference message: Plan ahead

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says people who buy federal flood insurance need to plan for big rate hikes.

Craig Fugate says some people now paying hundreds of dollars a year could wind up paying thousands because Congress says the program must at least pay for itself.

He told the National Hurricane Conference on Tuesday that the increases will be phased in over three to four years.

Director Rick Knabb said the National Hurricane Center will give people two additional days of notice about where tropical systems are likely to develop. The tropical storm outlook has been covering three days; now it will be a 5-day forecast.

He says the center is working on storm surge watches and warnings, with plans to roll them out in 2015.

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