With National Flood Safety Awareness Week kicking off, SmarterSafer.org is urging Congress to pass meaningful flood insurance reform and provide a long-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In a letter being sent to Congress today, the group said reform is necessary to protect homeowners and businesses.
“March 12-16 has been designated as National Flood Safety Awareness Week, however, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has yet to be extended and is set to expire at the end of May,” said SmarterSafer.org. “The NFIP must be reformed and extended to ensure that it can continue to safeguard communities, prevent further taxpayer bailouts, and protect the environment.”
This week has been designated National Flood Safety Awareness Week by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). SmarterSafer.org said more than 5.6 million policyholders throughout the United States depend on the NFIP as their main source of protection against flooding, which is the most common natural disaster in the United States.
The NFIP is nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase as a result of last year’s unprecedented flooding. SmarterSafer.org said National Flood Safety Awareness Week is an opportunity to recognize how NFIP reform will help communities better prepare for natural disasters.
“NFIP reform will improve the way we communicate and manage flood risk; safeguard communities and the rivers they depend upon; and help people move out of harm’s way,” said SmarterSafer.org.
SmarterSafer.org said flood insurance reform has received widespread bipartisan support. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-term reauthorization of the NFIP in July by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, and the Senate Banking Committee unanimously reported a similar bill in September.
In February, a bipartisan coalition of 41 U.S. Senators wrote a letter to the Senate Leaders urging that legislation be sent to the Senate floor, however, that bill has yet to be introduced to the full Senate. The NFIP was temporarily extended four times in 2011, with the latest extension set to expire on May 31.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.