Hill Secures Southern-Indiana Focused Amendment in Flood Insurance Bill
Larger legislation extends and improves Flood Insurance Program
Washington, DC – Congressman Baron Hill offered and secured an amendment today to H.R. 5114, the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010. The amendment comes in direct response to concerns raised by folks back home about difficulties with obtaining funding to meet requirements to get their flood protection systems “accredited.”
The underlying bill, H.R. 5114, extends the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years and reforms the program by expanding coverage and providing homeowners with more control over their insurance. It also establishes an Office of Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA. This office is tasked with helping people in the program resolve problems with FEMA flood insurance and identifying potential changes to help fix these problems. Hill’s amendment adds a needed function to this FEMA office and calls on it to “identify ways to assist communities in their efforts to fund the accreditation of flood protection systems.”
“This amendment directly addresses concerns I heard from local leaders and Southern Indiana residents regarding the Flood Insurance Program,” Hill said. “Particularly in places like Tell City and Cannelton, they are concerned with the real and costly possibility of being placed in a high-risk flood zone because they are having trouble obtaining their certifications. This adds more expenses to our already cash-strapped local governments.”
Under current regulations, if a levee shows adequate protection, FEMA places it in a moderate risk zone, and property owners are not required to carry flood insurance -referred to as an “accredited” levee. De-certified or uncertified levees, however, will not be accredited and the areas behind these non-accredited levees will be placed in high-risk areas, and flood insurance will be required for property owners. While FEMA does not design, construct, fund, or approve levee systems or floodwall systems, in 2007 FEMA issued new guidelines that communities must meet. Unfortunately, for fear of liability, private companies charge upwards of $500,000 to certify levees for communities and the Corps of Engineers will only perform them for those who obtain a federal match. This leaves out many smaller communities who have the tightest budgets. If these communities do not meet FEMA’s guidelines and due dates, then they will be deemed a high-risk area and this will dramatically increase the cost of their flood insurance. Hill’s amendment ensures that the Office of Flood Insurance Advocate looks into this issue and helps find ways to assist communities – like Tell City and Cannelton - in their efforts to comply with FEMA’s guidelines.
Hill’s amendment was adopted with no opposition, and the larger bill was passed this afternoon by a vote of 329 to 90.