Flood Prepared Communities update 2019
The first half of this year picked up where 2018 left off with the wettest start of any calendar year in U.S. history. Unprecedented rains drove historic flooding along rivers like the Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi, while places like Baton Rouge are still in the midst of a record-shattering 192 consecutive days with waters above flood stage. With the stark need to modernize the nation’s flood policies on fully display, we wanted to share a summary of recent efforts involving Pew’s Flood-Prepared Communities team.
As always, it’s great to hear what others are doing in the flood space so feel free to send us updates of your own!
All the best,
Consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts
FLOOD POLICY DEVELOPMENTS:
Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address Repeatedly Flooded Properties: On July 11th, Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced S. 2088, an important piece of legislation that can reduce the risk faced by communities that flood time and again, and in doing so, reduce future flood recovery costs. The bill would achieve this by requiring communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that have a significant amount of repeatedly flooded structures to essentially undertake a “flood diagnosis.” The effort would involve identifying problem areas and assessing future risk in addition to developing and implementing community-based plans to mitigate flood risk. Repeatedly flooded properties have historically accounted for between 25 and 30 percent of the National Flood Insurance Program’s losses, despite representing just 1 percent of NFIP policies.
House Committee Passes NFIP Reauthorization Bill: On June 12th, the Financial Services Committee passed H.R. 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, unanimously on a vote of 58 to 0. The bill would reauthorize the NFIP program for five years and represents a positive first step toward reforming the program and addressing issues of policy affordability, risk transparency and increasing mitigation investments through mechanisms like a new state revolving loan fund. The NFIP is set to expire on September 30th, 2019. Pew’s letter to Congress regarding the bill can be found here.
Lack of Flood Risk Disclosure Law Leaves Homebuyers at Risk: Based on data from recent years, analysts expect existing home sales to top 2 million for June through September of this year. Unfortunately, many of those buyers will move into their new home without a critical piece of information: the property’s flood history. In renewing the NFIP, Congress should change the law to require sellers disclose available information about a property’s flood history and risk.
Flood Mitigation Efforts Get Bigger in Texas: On June 13th, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed three bills to increase disaster resiliency and reduce recovery costs in the Lone Star State. Two of the bills work in tandem, requiring officials to develop the state’s first watershed-based flood plan and drawing $800 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” for mitigation efforts, including nature-based projects. The third bill creates one of the most advanced flood risk disclosure laws in the country.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
FEMA wraps up public comment period on new Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program: Intending to replace the current Pre-Disaster Mitigation program, FEMA accepted public comments on the development and implementation of the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program through July 15th. Using the Ideascale platform, individuals can provide feedback on comments as well as vote for, or against, each.
July 23rd - 24th: U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Annual Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships Conference:The 8th annual conference will focus on the collaboration needed among public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help mitigate disaster impacts, improve community resilience, and enhance long-term recovery efforts. Laura Lightbody, Director of Pew’s flood-prepared communities initiative, will moderate a plenary session focused on strategies across sectors and industry that can strengthen the resiliency of communities.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Pushing to Pass Highway Bill this Summer: Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) sent a letter to Senate leadership noting they are making progress on a bipartisan highway bill with the goal of passing it out of Committee before August recess. Committee staff have held stakeholder resilience roundtables, and disaster resilience is expected to have a role in the bill regardless of when it is introduced.