Today, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced H.R. 1558, the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act. The bill aims to limit the financial resources expended by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on claims for properties flooded multiple times:
“A tiny number of properties that are flooded and rebuilt over-and-over again are responsible for a massive chunk of the indebted NFIP's spending. Any serious effort by Congress to reform the Program and make it less of a drain on taxpayers needs to address repeatedly flooded properties and reward local communities making progress on mitigation. I look forward to continuing my work with Chairmen Hensarling and Duffy to see the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act included in this year's NFIP reauthorization and enacted into law," said Rep. Royce.
“We have a unique and timely opportunity for real reform with the NFIP reauthorization this year,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Repetitive flood loss is a weak point in the system—burdening taxpayers, homeowners, and families. Allowing these proprieties to continue to flood is dangerous and irresponsible, yet existing policy continues to encourage it. This legislation will help communities across the country address repeated flood loss and is a critical step to stabilize the troubled flood insurance program.”
As of January 2016, there were more than 150,000 structures around the country classified as “Repetitive Loss Properties" (RLPs) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA estimates that these properties comprise just one percent of those insured by the NFIP, but represent 25 to 30 percent of all flood claims. The NFIP is more than $23 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury and according to a 2009 report by FEMA’s Inspector General, the number of RLPs increases by nearly 5,000 each year. From 1978 through 2011, RLP losses added up to more than $12 billion— or approximately half of the NFIP’s debt.
The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act requires communities with a significant number of RLP to:
- Map repeatedly flooded properties and public infrastructure to determine the specific areas that should be priorities for voluntary buyouts, drainage improvements, or other mitigation efforts.
- Develop and implement plans for mitigating flood risk in these problem areas.
- Submit these plans as well as reports on progress to FEMA, an organization that is under the purview of Congressional oversight.
A summary of the bill can be viewed here.