July 31, 2018

Frontline Floodplain Communities Continue to Wait as Congress Dithers on NFIP Reforms

Statement by Rachel Cleetus, Lead Economist and Policy Director

WASHINGTON (July 30, 2018)—Congress passed a four-month extension for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) today, but failed to include provisions to fix the persistent problems plaguing the program. The NFIP, which needed to be extended by July 31 to prevent a lapse, is the single largest source of flood insurance for homeowners and small businesses with just over 5 million policies currently in force. Last year’s devastating hurricane season brought unprecedented flooding to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, while this year, the nation has already seen terrible flooding across the Midwest; in Ellicott City, MD; and in California, demonstrating the importance of ensuring program continuity for flood-prone communities

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has been vocal on the need to not only extend, but also reform the NFIP program. Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director with the Climate and Energy Program at UCS.

“Today, Congress passed their seventh short-term re-authorization of the NFIP in less than a year, failing yet again to adopt much-needed, comprehensive program reforms. The combination of a warming climate and rapid development in flood-prone areas will continue to raise the human and economic toll of flood disasters without urgent intervention from Congress. In just the next 30 years, hundreds of thousands of coastal homes and businesses worth billions of dollars will be at risk from chronic flooding worsened by rising seas.

“These challenges are threatening the viability of the NFIP in its current form. But with the right reforms, the program can play a vital role in making our nation more flood-resilient in the decades ahead. Updated flood risk maps reflecting the latest science, coupled with greater investments in flood mitigation measures and provisions keeping insurance affordable for low- and fixed-income homeowners, would go a long way toward helping communities understand and cope with their flood risks. What’s more, Congress can ensure taxpayer dollars are invested wisely to limit the costs of future disasters.

“Communities on the floodplain frontlines don’t have unlimited time to wait as Congress dithers.”

Click here to view a list of the NFIP reforms recommended by UCS.

Click here to view the new UCS analysis “Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate.”

Click here to view the latest UCS fact sheet on the science around extreme precipitation and inland flooding.

If you have any questions, or would like to arrange an interview with Cleetus, please contact Ashley Siefert Nunes by email at [email protected] or by phone at 202-331-5666.