Waters Calls on President Obama to Waive the Cost Sharing Requirements for Disaster Assistance on Flooded Areas in Louisiana
Following historic flooding in Louisiana and the President’s disaster declaration leaving open the possibility that the state may have to cover 25 percent of public assistance funds, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D – CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services sent a letter to President Obama and called on him to use his authority to provide relief for the state and require the federal government to pay for 100 percent of public assistance. Due to the low take up rates of the National Flood Insurance Program, federal disaster assistance funds will be used to rebuild the region, but the state of Louisiana is currently on the hook for 25 percent of those funds. Rep. Waters’ letter comes as the President visits the area today.
“As the people of Louisiana begin the long process of clean up and recovery, I call on President Obama to use his full discretion to increase the federal share of disaster assistance to the affected communities. Most of the residents of the 60,000 homes that sustained damage were told that they did not need flood insurance and now have little to no means to rebuild their homes and their lives. Due to the low rates of flood insurance coverage, the bulk of recovery funds will need to come from federal disaster assistance and we cannot expect the state, which has experienced such devastation, to pay a quarter of that cost. The President has the authority to increase federal spending up to 100 percent. I urge him to use that authority and help the people of Louisiana and I will use my leadership in Congress to ensure that the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program includes reforms that will better protect homeowners, renters, and businesses in the face of disaster.”
Rep. Waters is a long-time friend to the Louisiana area, having been one of the first Members of Congress to visit the state following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. She authored legislation, “the Katrina bill” to help the Gulf Region to recover from the storm, held multiple field hearings in the region, fought for disaster recovery funds and their fair use, and helped displaced residents to return to their homes. For months, Waters led a bipartisan effort to provide homeowners with flood insurance rate relief and to bring accountability to FEMA. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) passed the House on March 4 and the Senate on March 13 and was ultimately signed into law on March 21. The law made clear that addressing affordability was to be a top priority of the NFIP. The current authorization for the NFIP expires on September 30, 2017 and as Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Waters is taking a lead role in preparing for the reauthorization of that program.
The full text of the letter can be found below.
The Honorable Barack Obama
As you may know, most of the residents of the 60,000 homes that sustained damage in Louisiana were told that they did not need flood insurance and they are now left with little to no means to rebuild their homes and their lives. Due to the low rates of flood insurance coverage, the bulk of recovery funds will need to come from federal disaster assistance and we cannot expect the state, which has experienced such devastation, to pay a quarter of that cost. The federal government should not impose any additional financial burdens on the state of Louisiana as it is reeling from the economic problems caused by this disaster. I stand ready to do everything in my power to work with you to ensure that Louisiana receives 100 percent of the federal funding for which it is eligible. As Congress prepares to consider the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program I hope that you will join me in considering reforms to the Program so that our nation’s homeowners, renters, and businesses are better protected in the face of disaster.