On april 1, homeowners will see flood insurance rates increase electricity was invented in what year

"My insurance is more than my mortgage," Loft-Powers said in a phone interview from her year-round home in Deerfield Beach, near Fort Lauderdale. "I live by the beach in an old neighborhood. I pay (too much) insurance for a … house that’s not great."

On Wednesday — April Fool’s Day — a congressional act that revised federal insurance premiums goes into effect, and coastal homeowners such as Loft-Powers say the joke will be on them. The government is slowly phasing out subsidized flood insurance for more than a million Americans with houses in flood zones who, in some cases, pay half the true commercial rate.

Some owners say they are angry because their houses near lakes, rivers, bays and oceans were much more affordable with cheap rates that will now increase by as much as 25 percent each year until the premiums equal the full risk of settling down on property mapped as a flood zone.

Congress ordered a rate increase because the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is $24 billion in debt. It reached that historic low because revenue from the discounted premiums could not cover payments on flood claims, particularly after two devastating hurricanes, Katrina and Sandy, on the gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Ninety percent of disasters in the United States result from flooding, according to NFIP statistics, and coastal homeowners with discounted policies are getting little sympathy from conservationists and advocates for taxpayers who think they should pay dearly for that risk.

Rising sea levels from climate change make coastal living even more dangerous, conservationists say. And the flood insurance program that went into the red paying flood claims is deep in debt to a U.S. Treasury funded by taxpayers, advocates say.

"Realistically, it’s not great for people," said Shannon Hulst Jarbeau, assistant director of a nonprofit group called Wetlands Watch in Norfolk, Va., a low-lying city that struggles with flooding from sea-level rise. But the rate increases are "not so horrible either," she said.

Last year, a Government Accountability Office report said FEMA’s debt to taxpayers is so large that the agency can only afford to pay on its interest. It hasn’t made a principal payment in years. The NFIP collected about $4 billion in premiums in 2013 while insuring property worth nearly $1.5 trillion, the GAO said.

As the seas rise by a few millimeters each year, storm surge from hurricanes will only worsen. A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last year said long-term sea-level rise has made tidal flooding a near-daily event in many cities, as opposed to 1950, when it happened about once every two years.

The cost of bailing out the victims of Katrina and Sandy was so overwhelming that Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 that increased flood-insurance policies by 25 percent across the board for people living in flood zones. Much of it would be phased in, but new buyers of homes in the zones would absorb the full increase.

Loft-Powers, a chiropractor who wanted to invest in real estate, said she was forced to sell two homes she owned in Deerfield Beach at a greatly reduced price because she couldn’t cover the insurance payments in a state where four hurricanes — Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne — hit over six weeks starting in August 2004.

It was exactly the kind of negative reaction that insurance experts warned against before Congress passed the law, said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America and a former federal insurance administrator who helped set government flood policy rates in the 1970s.

After finally getting the message, Congress passed the Home­owner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 that revised the increase. Of the 1 million Americans with subsidized flood insurance, about 800,000 primary owners live in their homes year-round, and 200,000 secondary owners rarely occupy their homes.

Under the new law that goes into effect Wednesday, primary home­owners would see an average yearly 10 percent increase. Loft-Powers would pay an extra $750. To make up for slowing the revenue stream meant to pay FEMA’s debt to the U.S. Treasury, primary residents living like her would pay an extra $25 yearly surcharge.