WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is part of a bipartisan group that is offering to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to resolve growing concerns with the effort to update the nation’s flood zone maps.
Cochran is among 16 senators who have asked to meet with the heads of the Army Corps and FEMA to try to address constituent concerns about an effort to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), including fears raised by draft maps that indicate FEMA will significantly expand designated flood zones.
When finalized, FIRMs will determine which residents would be forced to purchase FEMA-administered flood insurance.
“The concerns being raised by Mississippians indicate to me that there shouldn’t be a rush to finalize the updated flood zone maps. People understand the need for these maps, but I believe they are justifiably concerned about the potential ramifications of the draft proposals,” Cochran said. “I hope FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers accept our offer to work with them to address the multiple issues that trouble those homeowners and businesses that will be most affected by the new flood zones.”
Major concerns with the implementation of the flood map modernization effort are recounted in a letter sent to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate and Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. Authored by U.S. Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), the correspondence formally requests a meeting to discuss “levee certification, the Flood Map Modernization Program and issues related to the implementation of FIRMs.”
The letter addresses a number of concerns, including: inadequate communication and outreach with local stakeholders; a lack of coordination between FEMA and the Army Corps to address questions about flood mapping, insurance and flood control infrastructure repairs; a disregard for locally-funded flood control projects when determining flood zones; insufficient time and resources to complete repairs to flood control structures before flood maps are finalized; and, potential impacts new flood maps might have on economic development.
Pryor, Cochran, Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), David Vitter (R-La.), Dick Durbin and Roland Burris (D-Ill.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chris Bond (R-Mo.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) signed the letter.