September 13, 2016

Shelby Opening Statement in Hearing On Setting the Stage For Flood Insurance Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, DC – Tuesday, September 13, 2016 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today delivered the following opening remarks during a full committee hearing on “The National Flood Insurance Program: Reviewing the Recommendations of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council’s 2015 Annual Report.” 

The text of Chairman Shelby’s remarks, as prepared, is below.  

“Today, we will hear testimony related to the upcoming reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, which expires next year. 

“Today’s witnesses will discuss the recommendations in the Technical Mapping Advisory Council’s annual report.

“The Council was created by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.  Its job is to review matters related to the national flood mapping program and make recommendations to FEMA.

“This year’s report includes recommendations on how FEMA can better communicate flood risk which can form the basis for more accurate flood insurance rates.

“Flood insurance not only helps homeowners recover in the event of a flood, it also enables communities to reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. However, the program cannot be successful without accurate mapping and flood risk modeling.

“For years, I have advocated for a flood insurance program that uses the best science and data to map properties so that both the government and homeowners fully understand the risk of flooding. 

“Today, most homeowners do not understand the true flood risk to their property.  This is due in part to the fact that FEMA’s rate model was – and still is – based on limited data from the early 1970’s and nearly half of FEMA’s maps remain out of date.

“The technology available today is better than ever before and enables us to produce very detailed maps.  Such maps, overlaid with historical flooding data and state-of-the-art modeling would allow the NFIP to more accurately predict flooding risk and price flood insurance policies accordingly.

“The United States continues to experience repeated and devastating flood disasters that have resulted in more than $51 billion in payments from the NFIP.  In fact, the recent flooding in Louisiana is anticipated to cost more than $1 billion, making it the fourth largest disaster in the history of the program.

“These record-breaking disasters have required the program to borrow $23 billion from the U.S. Treasury to pay claims.  

“If we want to ensure the long-term viability of the NFIP without borrowing from the Treasury, flood insurance rates must accurately reflect risk.

“The basic flood insurance program has not changed substantially since 1968.  I am hopeful that this report will spur the change that is long overdue.”