U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) introduced the bipartisan State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act of 2019, legislation designed to drive down flood insurance premiums by creating a low-interest loan program to help property owners better flood-proof their homes and businesses, protecting property and ultimately reducing post-disaster claims and recovery costs. He was joined by U.S. Representative Roger Williams (R-TX) in introducing this bipartisan bill. The legislation has the support of Pew Charitable Trusts, Natural Resources Defense Council, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Property Casualty Insurance Association of America, Consumer Mortgage Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, and Union of Concerned Scientists. A full list of supporters can be found here.
"The need to bring down flood insurance premiums while helping folks better protect their homes from storm damage is as critical as ever," said Rep. Crist. "Mitigation is key to reducing post-disaster costs, saving taxpayer dollars, and building more resilient communities in the face of more extreme weather and rising sea levels. The devastating storms we've seen over the past several years speaks to the urgent need for federal action on flood mitigation programs, protecting public safety and our economy."
"Flooding is the most common and costliest natural disaster in the United States and it was past time to address the need for mitigation," said Rep. Williams. "This legislation will prevent federal post-disaster spending and minimize the unforeseen burdens on American families, as well as the economy."
"Research shows that the demand for flood mitigation has outpaced available funding. That leaves states and communities without adequate resources to reduce flood impacts on their neighborhoods, infrastructure, and economies," said Laura Lightbody, Project Director for Pew Charitable Trust's Flood Prepared Communities Initiative. "The State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act provides a much-needed tool to help localities prepare for flooding and minimize rebuilding costs afterward. It will make them better able to cope with our country's costliest natural disaster."
"As floods, wildfires, and other disasters increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, the nation is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on recovery and rebuilding efforts. But we spend relatively little to make our communities safer and less vulnerable in advance of these catastrophes," said Rob Moore, Director of the Water & Climate Team at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This legislation would create a new way for the federal and state governments to finance much-needed investments that can help communities weather the storms of the future."
State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act Background:
Flooding is the costliest and most common natural disaster in the U.S., claiming lives, damaging households and businesses, and straining government agencies that provide flood response and relief. According to a 2018 report by the National Institute of Building Sciences, for every dollar spent on hazard mitigation, the nation saves $6 in post-disaster costs. The benefits come largely from avoided property damage, casualties associated with storms, and savings when businesses and communities can quickly return to normal following a flood event.
Modeled after the successful Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds, the State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act would establish a state revolving loan program to help fund flood mitigation projects for homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, and communities. The program would allow states to offer low-interest loans to NFIP participants for flood mitigation projects to better protect their properties, reducing post-disaster claims. For those participating in the program, FEMA would offer NFIP premium reductions in line with mitigation efforts taken.
The State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act of 2019 has the support of over 100 community resiliency, environmental protection, and municipal organizations from states across the country, including Florida. The bill also has the support of over 30 national organizations dedicated to achieving affordable flood insurance and the resiliency of our nation's communities.