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Reps. Wagner, Kustoff, McAdams, and Blumenauer Introduce Legislation to Prevent Repeated Community Flooding

Feb 7, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO), David Kustoff (R-TN), Ben McAdams (D-UT), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act. This bipartisan legislation would strengthen protections for flood-prone communities by encouraging them to plan for future disasters.

The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act takes steps to address the fiscally irresponsible cycle of repeated flooding and rebuilding of communities by taking proactive steps to reduce increasing flood risks with federal resources. A version of this legislation passed the House in the 115th Congress as part of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874).

“We must help regions at risk of repeat flooding become more resilient. By incentivizing communities to plan ahead for damaging floods, we can avoid continually subsidizing the rebuilding of flood-prone properties through the National Flood Insurance Program,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO). “This bill aims to prevent loss of life and property and help communities withstand major floods like those we have recently experienced in Missouri."

“All too common natural disasters are requiring us to take dynamic action to prevent communities from being devastated by the worst impacts of the growing climate crisis,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Floods are no exception, yet the National Flood Insurance Program actually incentivizes many communities to ignore this problem. This legislation would take a crucial step in the right direction by encouraging those who have experienced repeated flooding to plan for future disasters. Through these preventative steps, communities can actually protect their members from persistent flooding and relieve pressure on the federal government to bail out those neglecting their responsibilities.”

“The problem is simple: American Taxpayers have been paying to rebuild properties that have been repeatedly flooded for decades. This legislation is an important step towards fixing this ongoing problem. If enacted, those in flood prone areas would have the right safeguards and preparations to protect their homes and communities from this continual damage, while ultimately, saving taxpayers money. This legislation is a win-win and I look forward to its passage,” said Rep. Kustoff.

“Making smart investments in our communities and targeting mitigation efforts at properties most likely to flood is a win for homeowners and taxpayers,” said Rep. McAdams. “This legislation is common sense and a good governance measure that I’m proud to help introduce.”

“This bill will help reduce the number of homes and businesses that flood over and over again. Flooding is a national problem that affects all 50 states, and repeatedly flooded properties have cost the National Flood Insurance Program roughly $17 billion since 1978—posing a threat to its financial stability,” said Laura Lightbody, director of the flood-prepared communities initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts. “This costly cycle of flood, damage, and rebuild is one that demands action in order to improve community preparedness and keep people out of harm’s way.”

Under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), properties that have been flooded multiple times are consistently rebuilt without any additional plans to mitigate future flooding. These repetitive loss properties make up just one percent of those covered by the program, but result in up to 30 percent of all claims and have added up to more than $12 billion in costs to the federal government.

This bill incentivizes communities with a significant number of repetitive loss properties to proactively submit flood prevention plans to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a condition of their participation in the NFIP. Additionally, the bill sets deadlines for FEMA to develop criteria to govern these repeat loss plans and determine any appropriate actions for failure to act, requires FEMA to report to Congress every two years on implementation progress, and authorizes FEMA to target special assistance to communities working to address these repeatedly flooded areas.