September 13, 2016

Brown Opening Statement at Hearing on National Flood Insurance Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing on the “The National Flood Insurance Program: Reviewing the Recommendations of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council's 2015 Annual Report.”

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement
Hearing: “The National Flood Insurance Program: Reviewing the Recommendations of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council's 2015 Annual Report”

Sept. 13, 2016

Thank you, Chairman Shelby, for calling this hearing today. 

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster facing the United States.  With a growing population and a changing climate, our entire nation – not just the coastal states – will continue to grapple with this issue in the years ahead. 

It will have a direct impact on Ohioans and all other Americans who live in or near flood plains.

It will also have an indirect impact on all taxpayers no matter where they live. 

The people of Louisiana experienced historic, devastating flooding in August from a storm that dumped as much as two feet of rain in just 48 hours. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and at least 13 people died. By one estimate, the cost of the damage could reach $15 billion.

Some homeowners and businesses had flood insurance policies to help their recovery.  But many others did not, possibly because it wasn’t required or because they assumed they were safe outside of the 100-year floodplain.  

I hope to get an update from Deputy Associate Administrator Wright on how the NFIP is responding to the devastation in Louisiana. 

In addition, given the significant concerns that have been raised around FEMA’s claims process, I want to hear more about FEMA’s “Transformation” effort to improve the NFIP following Superstorm Sandy, and how that is working for policyholders in Louisiana. 

I also view today’s hearing as the first step in a comprehensive examination of the program leading up to its reauthorization in 2017. 

The National Flood Insurance Program seeks to combat the effects of flooding through its three interrelated components:

  • Flood insurance - to help property owners recover quickly after a flood and reduce the need for federal emergency appropriations
  • Floodplain management - to minimize damage to people and property through mitigation and local ordinances; and
  • Floodplain mapping

By identifying and mapping flood hazards, floodplain mapping underpins both the insurance and mitigation components of the program.

The subject of today’s hearing goes to the heart of something both familiar and vital to us all:  our homes and communities. 

Just ask the people of Louisiana.

We need to focus on ways to keep people and property out of harm’s way, and help them bounce back when disaster does strike. 

We also need to make smart investments in infrastructure and mitigation to make our communities more resilient and save taxpayer dollars today and in the future.

Accurate understanding - and communication - of the flood risks we face is critical to those decisions. 

Congress recognized the importance of accurate maps in our 2012 NFIP reauthorization, when we authorized increased funding for FEMA’s flood mapping and established the Technical Mapping Advisory Committee, or TMAC, to provide expert advice on improving mapping for current and future conditions.

Our witnesses today will discuss the TMAC’s recommendations.

In our discussion, I hope to gain an understanding of the time, resources, and any Congressional actions that would be necessary to make them come about.    

With that, I welcome the witnesses and look forward to hearing your testimony on this important topic.