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Woman gets support to fight FEMA, rebuild home after fire | News

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Woman gets support to fight FEMA, rebuild home after fire
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A woman who lost her home to fire only to learn that new federal guidelines won't let her rebuild, may finally be getting some help both at home and in Washington D.C.

It will take an act of Congress to help Jennifer Taylor rebuild her Natomas home. While that moves forward, Taylor hopes a sign of support from city leaders will give the effort an extra push.

When a fire ripped apart her home in August, Taylor was just grateful her family made it out safely. With much of the structure still intact, the Taylors hoped to rebuild and move back in, but it wouldn't be that easy.

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"In order to fix our house FEMA's requirements mandate that we elevate the house more than 20 feet in the air, so we'd have to bulldoze what exists and raise the entire structure over 20 feet in the air," Taylor said.

As of 2008, Taylor's home now lies within the flood plain, but that wasn't always the case.

"We bought our home when it wasn't considered a flood plain," Taylor explained. "We bought because FEMA had just changed the regulations, so that we had a 100-year flood protection. That's why we felt safe buying in Natomas."

When the rules changed, Taylor understood that new construction would have to be elevated, but she didn't think that would apply to repairs from fire.

"It's incredibly expensive," Taylor said. "I've gotten some estimates up near $200,000, and that's not covered by insurance."

Taylor began reaching out to anyone who would listen, and it paid off. Congresswoman Doris Matsui introduced legislation last week to require FEMA to review situations on a case-by-case basis to consider possible waivers. When Taylor asked city leaders to get behind her, many stepped forward.

"What I want you to know is up here you have nothing but friends and allies," Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby said after Taylor addressed the council during public comments Tuesday night.

"This is something that is in our community, something that does not get enough attention, and when you in your efforts do what you do, it helps all of us in terms of our lobbying," Mayor Kevin Johnson said.

Taylor said she isn't sure how long it could take even if everything goes her way, so she hopes every effort to raise awareness will give the proposed legislation its best chance.

By Gabriel Roxas, groxas@news10.net

Twitter: @gabrielroxas

Facebook: Gabriel Roxas

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