According to Director of the Water & Climate Team at the Natural Resources Defense Council Rob Moore, the existing National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is not equipped to handle the financial reality of today’s storms. In an opinion piece published on The Hill, Moore stated that the NFIP’s debt load is growing, as the program, originally intended to encourage communities to take steps to progressively reduce the risk of flooding, has done the opposite. However, new legislation such as the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019 may “turn the tide.”
“The NFIP bill includes language that would make voluntary buyouts an eligible activity for ICC coverage,” Moore told The Hill. “These are funds that policyholders typically use to elevate a property. Increasing the coverage amount and clarifying that voluntary buyouts are available would simplify and shorten the buyout process, making buyouts a more viable option for residents of flood-prone areas.”
Climate change-related impact, including extreme rain and more frequent flooding means communities require additional resources to prepare for this risk.
“That’s where the creation of the state revolving loan fund comes in,” Moore said. “According to the bill, states can use the fund to make grants or loans to local communities for mitigation activities, like home elevations or buyouts, to decrease flood risk.”
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi is proposing an update to the NFIP, which aims to address the multiple extensions the Program has undergone with a long-term extension plan.
“We’re trying to flip the script on mitigation projects, from being reactionary to being proactive. This is the first bill that provides a significant amount of real money for pre-disaster mitigation, which would give taxpayers a better return on investment. It is far more expensive to rebuild after a disaster than it is to do everything you can to protect yourself beforehand,” Hyde-Smith said in a statement.