Dear Administrator Fugate and Secretary Darcy,
As Members of Congress, we recognize that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have distinct but complementary roles in flood prevention and recovery at the local level. Recent hurricanes along the Gulf coast and the U.S. Territories and flooding in the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast regions have renewed the country's focus on preventing the loss of life and property, and FEMA is addressing the issue through the Flood Map Modernization Program. Updating our nation's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) is an important task and we support efforts to better inform and educate residents about flood risk in their communities. However, we are very concerned about the way USACE and FEMA have approached the process and the challenges that have been created for affected communities.
We represent a diverse population with a variety of problems that have arisen as the FIRMs have been updated. Our constituents have expressed several concerns about hte flood mapping program, including:
A lack of communication and outreach with local stakeholders;
A lack of coordination between FEMA and USACE in answering questions about flood mapping, flood insurance and flood control infrastructure repairs;
A lack of recognition of locally funded flood control projects when determining flood zones;
The affordability of flood insurance;
Inadequate time and resource to complete repairs to flood control structures before flood maps are finalized;
Lack of coordination between USACE and FEMA on levee recertification;
Lack of consideration to extend deadlines for locally-funded flood control projects who work in good faith to make progress toward improvements;
Limited use of LiDAR mapping as available, and the reluctance to postpone finalization of floodplain maps if LiDAR information is to be available within one calendar year of proposed deadline;
The potential impact that new flood maps may have on economic development, particularly in small and rural communities; and
Innacuracy of the DFIRM data and the onus placed on homeowners and communities to provide accurate data.
Additionally, you may be aware that many of us have attempted to address these issues on multiple occasions in the past. However, the underlying problems with regard to the Flood Map Modernization Program have yet to be resolved. It is our hope that we are able to work together to find solutions to the overarching problems that our constituents are facing. If legislative solutions are called for, we would welcome your guidance.
We would also like to thank you for testifying before the House of Representatives several times over the course of the 111th Congress. Our understnading is that a bipartisan group of Senators has also recently contacted you with similar concerns. Because the annual flooding season is approaching and the time is of the essence, we respectfully request a timely response to this letter indicating what actions have been completed or are currently being taken by FEMA and USACE to address the above-mentioned concerns of our constituents. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the issue with our staffs, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you.