The House Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal discretionary funding, approved its version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations legislation. This bill provides funding for agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Recently there has been great concern regarding the accuracy of flood maps being drawn by FEMA, which determine the risk of flooding for certain areas. Those who have a federally backed mortgage on a property deemed to be in a flood zone are by law required to purchase a flood insurance policy. Furthermore, with the passage of the Biggert-Waters Food Insurance Reform Act of 2012, subsidized flood insurance rates under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are being phased out in order to restore solvency to a flood insurance program that is billions of dollars in debt.
Due to these factors, it is essential that FEMA ensure new flood maps are as accurate as possible. Flaws in flood maps could result in homeowners being forced to purchase expensive flood insurance policies when their flood risk is negligible. Additionally, FEMA's interpretation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act could have devastating consequences that could result in unnecessary hardships on many households and communities.
In the FY2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Report agreed to by the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-Ruston) and the Appropriations Committee put FEMA on notice with the following language: "The Committee is concerned about persistent reports of steep flood insurance rate increases that numerous NFIP policyholders are experiencing as a result of the implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act of 2012. While the Committee shares the very important objective of making the NFIP an actuarially sound program, it is concerning that homeowners who have been in compliance with relevant building codes and whose properties have not experienced repetitive flood events are being subjected to sudden, unanticipated and exorbitant NFIP rate increases. The Committee directs FEMA to provide it with a report within 60 days after of the date of enactment of this Act setting forth steps that are being taken to address this problem and what changes in the law, regulations or administrative procedures may be necessary to eliminate or reduce the rate increases for homeowners described above."