WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) issued the following statement following Senate approval of a 60-day extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in conjunction with an agreement to begin debate on a long-term reauthorization measure in June:
“I am pleased an agreement has been reached that will allow a short extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as more extensive Senate floor consideration of long-term extension proposals. As we head in to this year’s hurricane season, preventing a lapse in the program is critical. I believe it is vitally important that the Senate pass a long-term extension of the program to provide certainty for homeowners and the real estate market in general.
“Sen. Wicker has done an outstanding job in pushing for language that will help delineate between wind and water damage in hurricane scenarios along the Gulf Coast. With that said, the bill the Senate will consider still contains provisions that are very troubling for states like Mississippi that have extensive investments in a network of strong levees. It is absolutely critical that we modify or strike these provisions before final passage, and I am optimistic that we can do that.”
Cochran and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) have raised concerns about Section 107 of the committee-approved NFIP reauthorization legislation. As written, Section 107 would designate as “areas of special flood hazard” land currently protected by properly constructed and maintained flood control structures.
Last November, Cochran, Pryor and other senators wrote the Senate Banking Committee: “Areas protected by properly constructed and maintained levees, dams, and other flood control infrastructure should not be arbitrarily declared areas of special flood hazard. Under this provision, an area protected by a healthy levee that has a 1 in 500 chance of flooding in a given year based on actuarial analysis would be required by the federal government to carry flood insurance and adopt land-use restrictions, while an area not protected by a levee that has a 1 in 101 chance of flooding in a given year would not be required to purchase the insurance. In addition to the federal requirement to purchase insurance triggered by such a declaration, these communities would be forced to adhere to heightened land use and control measures, in effect imposing federal zoning ordinances, depriving these communities and citizens of local control, diminishing property value and reducing local revenue generation.”