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Mr. ARCURI. I thank my friend and colleague from the Rules Committee, Ms. Matsui, for yielding me the time. And I'd like to compliment her on her hard work over the years and her leadership with respect to protecting individuals who have been devastated by the effects of floods which brings us here today.
I speak in support of H.R. 5114, the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act, which will provide the stability necessary for businesses, realtors, homeowners, and plan effectively to reduce the potential economic loss and costs of repairing damages from future flooding without stifling or preventing otherwise safe development.
As FEMA works to update and modernize flood maps from communities across the country, thousands of families across Upstate New York are facing a new requirement to purchase flood insurance as they are remapped into new flood zone boundaries. It is imperative that these maps are accurate and protect our communities without unnecessarily burdening them or stifling economic development, especially during these very tough economic times.
H.R. 5114 seems to strike the proper balance by allowing property owners a sufficient grace period to account for the need to buy flood insurance or to appeal the determination that their property is within a floodplain, and also phases in flood insurance premium rates over a 5-year period beginning as soon as the property owner initiates the flood insurance policy.
In recent years, I've assisted communities in my district in successfully appealing updated flood maps, saving countless homes and business owners from unnecessarily having to purchase flood insurance.
Instances like this illustrate why the grace period in H.R. 5114 is so important--so property owners have a 5-year delay of the flood insurance purchase requirement within which to appeal FEMA's preliminary determination. This grace period would apply retroactively to any final updated flood map that was enacted since September 1, 2008.
I'm also pleased that H.R. 5114 will create the Office of Flood Insurance Advocate within FEMA to assist policyholders in filing flood insurance claims, settling disputes between policyholders and FEMA, and streamlining the claims process. This is a provision I fought to include in the flood insurance reform legislation in the last Congress, and I applaud the committee for including these provisions in the underlying bill today.
I encourage my colleagues to vote for the rule and the underlying bill.
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