Lawmakers push to fix National Flood Insurance Program

Local News

The National Flood Insurance program is the only way for homeowners to protect themselves from flood damage and it’s almost out of money, again.

“The United States Congress needs to get up off its ice cold lazy butt,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA).

Louisiana Senator John Kennedy is never one to mince words but inaction on an issue crucial to his state has the senator extra animated.

“There’s this attitude of oh yeah yeah we need to get to that issue someday, well someday was yesterday,” Kennedy also said.

It’s not just a problem for Louisiana, which is still recovering from flooding two years ago. The National Flood Insurance program protects more than five million homeowners across the country, including in South Carolina where residents are still under water because of Hurricane Florence.

The federal program is set to expire in just two months, potentially disrupting real estate markets, and leaving homeowners without their only source of flood insurance.

“We either need to fix the program over the next few weeks or roll it over again which I’m not happy about,” Sen. Kennedy also said.

The “fixes” Kennedy proposes include streamlining the claims process, new funding for flood mitigation, and stricter enforcement of flood policy requirements to broaden the insurance pool.

Then there’s the program’s $20 billion dollars in debt.

“We see more frequent flooding, more severe flooding, and folks are asking the question: how do we address this,” said Tom Santos with the American Insurance Institute.

Santos says a short-term funding bill could prevent the program from expiring. But, that also delays the type of reforms he says are needed to stop the program from going under. 

Local lawmakers have been responding to the flood insurance issue in Washington D.C. Both Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Tim Scott support renewing the program.

Senator Scott is on the committee that works on the flood insurance program and he said, in part, “over 200,000 South Carolinian households rely on the NFIP for flood insurance coverage; the program cannot be allowed to lapse… I’m working towards enactment of protections for residents of repeatedly flooded coastal areas while reauthorizing the NFIP for years to come.”

Seventh District Congressman Tom Rice also supports the bill, saying “this bill would allow for a more robust private flood insurance market, ensure that flood maps are up to date, and dedicate more resources to flood mitigation and prevention efforts. I hope that my colleagues in the senate pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

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