Sen. Carper Supports Bill to Improve National Flood Insurance

Has Worked To Improve Flood Insurance Program For Nearly 20 Years

WASHINGTON – To help Delawareans and all Americans at risk of severe flood damage and to restore financial stability to the nation’s debt-ridden flood insurance program, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) today voted to approve the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2008 (S.2284), which passed the Senate 92 to 6.

Sen. Carper stressed that the spring storm that struck Delaware this week causing streams and rivers to overflow, as well as storm surges along the coastline, points to the state’s vulnerability to flooding and the need for homeowners to protect themselves and their properties with comprehensive flood insurance.

The Delaware senator helped promote passage of this bipartisan legislation, which reauthorizes for five years the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), created in 1968 to provide subsidized insurance to cover flood damage. Earlier this year Sen. Carper chaired a Senate Banking Committee hearing where flood insurance modernization was considered.

“Americans trust that their government will respond to the devastation wrought by floods and I’m pleased after 20 years of working on this critical national concern that the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to overhaul our flood insurance program,” said Sen. Carper, who has worked to improve flood insurance since he served in the House of Representatives and following Hurricane Hugo in 1989. “Homeowners in Delaware should know when they are building or rebuilding on flood-prone property and they should have affordable insurance coverage in the event a major flood were to strike; the updated flood-maps and the strengthened insurance reforms of this bill are long-overdue.”

The bill approved today will ensure sufficient funds are available to expand the program; encourage owners of vulnerable properties to purchase flood insurance; modernize the flood mapping program; and reform the procedures associated with the reimbursing insurance companies. This Senate bill must be reconciled with a House version of flood insurance legislation before it can be signed into law.

Today, the federal flood insurance program covers more than five million property owners in the United States, including more than 22,000 property owners in Delaware. By law, homeowners must participate in the program if their property stands in a designated Special Flood Hazard Area, such as the Delawarebeaches.

Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the flood insurance program provides an affordable insurance alternative to federal disaster assistance for Americans living in flood-prone areas, maps of areas subject to flooding, and helps reduce future flood-related losses through community floodplain management measures.

“The deadly 2005 hurricane season exposed millions of Americans to the consequences of the lack of affordable insurance and revealed the inability of the federal flood program to handle a catastrophe of that magnitude, leaving the program with staggering debt,” Sen. Carper said.

This Senate bill forgives FEMA’s $20 billion debt but requires the agency establish a reserve fund equal to one percent of all insurance policies. The legislation expands eligibility to additional property owners and alerts those in the 500-year flood plain of their flood risks, increasing the likelihood that these homeowners will voluntarily purchase flood coverage.

“Perhaps, most importantly, this bill compels FEMA to modernize its flood maps,” Sen. Carper said. “Technology now allows for the creation of exact detailed flood maps so homeowners and communities are better prepared before another Hurricane Katrina strikes again.”