May 03, 2023

Scott, Schatz Reintroduce Bill to Protect Flood-Prone Communities

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) today reintroduced the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act to protect flood-prone communities. The bill would provide resources for preventative measures to help flood-prone communities end the costly cycle of repeated flooding and rebuilding.

“South Carolinians stood strong when parts of our state were devastated by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence,” said Ranking Member Scott. “It’s time to ensure the spiritual resilience of our communities is matched by the structural resilience of our homes and infrastructure. This bill will provide key resources to flood-prone communities across America and help them rise above the threat of persistent flooding.”

“Our bill builds on the momentum growing in states and cities to fight the new reality of worsening storms and accelerating sea level rise,” said Senator Schatz. “We need to do all we can to prepare our communities and our economy to weather the storm.”

Additionally, several national organizations are voicing support for the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act.

Jimi Grande, Senior Vice President of Federal and Political Affairs, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC): “As mutual insurers, we know the best time to address a loss is before it happens. The proactive approach taken by the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act will ensure communities are better protected from flood loss and, as an added bonus, save taxpayer dollars that go towards rebuilding properties highly vulnerable to flooding again and again.”

Nat Wienecke, Senior Vice President, American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA): “Flooding is the most common type of natural disaster loss in our country. This bipartisan legislation includes measures, such as improving risk mitigation and preparedness, that will better protect families and businesses and minimize losses due to flood. These reforms would also put the NFIP on more sound financial footing, which is critical to ensuring continued flood insurance protection for all consumers for years to come. APCIA calls on Congress to take up and pass this legislation to better protect families and businesses and strengthen the financial solvency of the NFIP.”

Laura Lightbody, Director of the Flood-Prepared Communities Project at The Pew Charitable Trusts: “Recent flood-related storms and growing disaster costs are the latest reminder that Congress must reform outdated federal policies and programs to limit future flood risks and impacts. The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act is an urgently needed update for the National Flood Insurance Program to limit the number of repeatedly flooded properties and improve community safety. Without such action, communities, businesses, and American taxpayers will continue to bear the brunt of the increasingly wasteful cycle of flooding, damage, and repair.”

Jerry Theodorou, Policy Director for the Finance, Insurance and Trade Program, R Street Institute: “Repetitive loss properties number approximately 1 percent of the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) five million flood policies, but account for approximately 30 percent of the program's claims. For the NFIP to approach fiscal soundness, it must deal effectively with repetitive loss properties. We support the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act because it would entail repeatedly flooded communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program to assess risks to their communities repeatedly damaged by floods, and to develop and implement a plan to mitigate flood risk in such areas.”

R.J. Lehmann, Senior Fellow, International Center for Law & Economics: “From Florida to California, Missouri to Virginia, and even the Las Vegas Valley, the past year has repeatedly demonstrated the devastating consequences of flooding all across the country. That's why it is essential that flood-prone communities consider the full scope of their infrastructure and mitigation needs, both to better secure lives and property and to ensure thoughtful and efficient investment of taxpayer resources. This legislation strikes a careful balance by encouraging such planning without burdening local communities with more top-down dictates from Washington.”

Nick Johns, Senior Manager of Policy and Government Affairs, NTU: “National Taxpayers Union is proud to support Senator Tim Scott's ‘Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act.’ While no community actively seeks out natural disasters, this legislation will protect taxpayers that are currently on the hook for communities that do not seek to improve their planning and preparation to avoid severe and repeated flooding. By prompting the Federal Emergency Management Administration to encourage local governments to reduce their own risk ahead of time and giving incentives to do so, this legislation will improve the sustainability of the ailing National Flood Insurance Program to ensure it can tackle future unavoidable disasters.”

The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act will help compel the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and local governments to proactively reduce flood risk rather than simply rebuilding the same properties repeatedly, which puts unnecessary strain on the NFIP and threatens other policyholders. Additionally, the bill sets deadlines for FEMA to develop criteria to govern these repeat loss plans and determine any appropriate sanctions for failure to act, requires FEMA to report to Congress every two years on implementation progress, and authorizes FEMA to target special assistance to communities working to address these repeatedly flooded areas.

For more information, read the bill text here.