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Urge Senators to Support Flood Insurance Bill

August 3, 2010
Opinion Piece

Congresswoman Waters wrote the following letter to the editor on her legislation to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program. This letter was published in the Visalia Times Delta:

From your coverage of the flood-insurance bill that I introduced and Congress passed ["Visalia City Councilmen upset over Rep. Nunes' voting no on flood-insurance bill," July 23], I was pleased to read that City Council members in Visalia understand that H.R. 5114 will benefit local residents and businesses.

The House overwhelmingly passed this five-year extension: only 90 members of Congress, including your local representative, Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, voted against it.

My colleagues who voted for the legislation realize that, among other things, the bill raises maximum coverage limits, provides notice to renters about necessary insurance coverage and establishes a Flood Insurance Advocate, similar to the Taxpayer Advocate at the Internal Revenue Service.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is currently updating flood maps to better reflect flooding realities in this country: we've seen massive and sometimes deadly flooding from Iowa to Arkansas to Rhode Island, and we're currently in the middle of what is expected to be a busy hurricane season. H.R. 5114 delays the implementation date of new rate maps so that homeowners in affected areas are not immediately burdened by insurance costs.

I understand that there is some confusion about when the delay would go into effect. To be clear, for any maps issued after Sept. 30, 2007, the mandatory purchase of flood insurance would be delayed for five years. This means that mortgage companies would not be allowed to require homeowners to purchase flood insurance or to purchase it on their behalf during this period. After the five-year delay, flood insurance premiums would then be phased in by 20 percent a year over five years.

The National Flood Insurance Program [NFIP] is the primary source of reliable, affordable flood insurance coverage for approximately 5 million American homes and businesses. For too long, NFIP was subjected to lapses and temporary extensions which created uncertainty and prevented home sales. Reauthorizing the flood insurance program for five years, as my legislation does, is supported by key homeowner, Realtor and insurer groups and will help bring flood insurance coverage into the 21st century.

I strongly urge the Senate to take up the legislation after the district work period so that NFIP's reauthorization can become law, giving home and business owners in Visalia and throughout California and the country meaningful, substantive and affordable coverage and protection.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, represents South Los Angeles in Congress and chairs the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over FEMA and NFIP.