U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) participated in the House Financial Services Housing and Insurance Subcommittee Hearing today on Biggert-Waters. His opening statement follows:
"I want to thank our panelists -- the Honorable Craig Fugate, whom I had a chance to work with when he was the director of the emergency operations center in Florida during the devastating 2004-2005 storm season.
"Florida has a unique relationship with the National Flood Insurance Program. Two out of every five homes covered by NFIP are located in Florida. And yet, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and even Texas, have received more in claims payments than Florida. I think this is due in part to our mitigation program and a little bit of luck as well.
"We contain so many policies for NFIP because we are a peninsula. Very simply--we have more risk. Our residents, many of my constituents, need affordable flood insurance.
"The NFIP is over $24 billion dollars in debt. The business model was flawed, and the program faced elimination. The Biggert-Waters bill addressed this problem and aimed to implement reforms to keep the program available.
"Unfortunately, the implementation of the Biggert-Waters program has proven problematic. I'm hearing reports from my constituents of $15,000 dollar increases in their flood insurance premiums.
"The communities in my district are very concerned about the accuracy of FEMA's mapping. Now is the time for serious discussions about affordability, private market risk capacity, and the program's premium collection.
"I hope that today's hearing will shed some light. While some might feel that the government should wipe its hands of the problem, I'd like to note that Congress created this program, Congress allowed subsidized rates to continue for over 40 years. Congress passed the reforms that, while ultimately necessary, are very burdensome for some communities. Government created this problem; now we should work toward a solution. And I yield back."