Press Releases

Waters, Crist and Esty Lead FY19 Appropriations Requests to Protect Communities at Risk of Flooding

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Washington, DC, March 26, 2018 | comments

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, led two letters to House appropriators in support of her ongoing effort to fight for victims of natural flood disasters. She was joined by Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) in co-leading a letter that calls for the forgiveness of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) debt. She also co-led a letter with Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) urging appropriators to increase funding for our nation’s flood maps during the federal appropriations process for fiscal year 2019.

NFIP Debt Forgiveness
Waters and Crist co-led a letter urging debt forgiveness of the NFIP’s $25 billion debt. The letter, signed by 33 House Democrats, calls on appropriators to address the remaining NFIP debt that continues to burden policyholders through increases in fees, ultimately resulting in unaffordable premiums.

“By Congressional design, the NFIP is largely self-sustaining – funded by insurance premiums and fees paid by policyholders - but it is not set up to fund large catastrophic events through policy premiums and fees alone,” the lawmakers wrote. “According to this design, the NFIP was self-supporting from 1986 until 2005, but the program took on substantial debt because of extraordinary losses incurred following hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005, and more recently, Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The current debt represents funds that were expended to pay claims to homeowners who responsibly maintained flood insurance coverage when their homes were hit by these catastrophic storms. In other words, the NFIP’s current debt is the direct result of Congressional design and it is time that Congress takes responsibility for it.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.


Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)
Waters and Esty were joined by 24 of their colleagues in requesting $1.5 billion in FY 2019 for flood mapping. The lawmakers also urged appropriators to commit to maintaining this funding level over the next five years to invest a total of $7.5 billion into the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program, an amount that is expected to provide adequate flood maps for every community in the country. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which are developed by FEMA’s Risk MAP program, are increasingly outdated and leave out entire communities.

“Flood mapping is a critical component of building resilient communities and protecting property and life in the face of disaster,” the lawmakers wrote. "In the face of increasing frequency of flooding that causes untold devastation on our communities, and with the rising cost of disaster assistance, it is more important than ever before to invest in our flood maps.”

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Ranking Member Waters has expressed longstanding concerns about NFIP’s stability and the need to improve FEMA’s flood maps. She has pushed for a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP that ensures the affordability and availability of flood insurance. See her September 2017 op-ed on the program here.

In 2014, Ranking Member Waters led bipartisan legislation to provide homeowners with flood insurance rate relief. The law struck an important balance between addressing affordability concerns, bringing accountability to FEMA, and protecting the financial stability of the NFIP.



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