(Editor's note: This is an excerpt from an article from NBC News, reprinted with permission. For the full story, see investigations.nbcnews.com)
GULF SHORES, Ala. -- As homeowners around the nation protest skyrocketing premiums for federal flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has quietly moved the lines on its flood maps to benefit hundreds of oceanfront condo buildings and million-dollar homes, according to an analysis of federal records by NBC News.
The changes shift the financial burden for the next destructive hurricane, tsunami or tropical storm onto the neighbors of these wealthy beach-dwellers -- and ultimately onto all American taxpayers.
In more than 500 instances from the Gulf of Alaska to Bar Harbor, Maine, FEMA has remapped waterfront properties from the highest-risk flood zone, saving the owners as much as 97 percent on the premiums they pay into the financially strained National Flood Insurance Program.
NBC News also found FEMA has redrawn maps even for properties that have repeatedly filed claims for flood losses from previous
storms. At least some of the properties are on the secret "repetitive loss list" FEMA sends to communities to alert them to problem properties. FEMA said it does not factor previous losses into its decisions on applications to redraw the flood zones.
And FEMA has given property owners a break even when the changes are opposed by the town hall official in charge of flood control. Although FEMA asks the local official to sign off on the map changes, it told NBC its policy is to consider the applications even if the local expert opposes the change.
For the full article and details on the properties, see investigations.nbcnews.com.