Congressman MacArthur’s Statement on National Flood Insurance Reform
Washington, D.C. –Congressman MacArthur released the following statement after he voted to advance the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reform package out of the House Financial Services Committee:
Nearly, five years ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore. Ocean County - my home - was the epicenter of the storm and half of all NJ Sandy flood claims happened here. Even today, many families are still not back in their homes and are dealing with the effects of this storm because of mismanagement at FEMA. The terrible response to this storm coupled with an opportunity to reauthorize and reform the NFIP are two big reasons why I sought a seat on the House Financial Services Committee during this Congress.
After joining the House Financial Services Committee, I was confronted with the harsh reality that many of my non-coastal colleagues wanted to gut the NFIP and put it on the path to extinction. My goal has been to achieve a long-term reauthorization and reform the program so it serves flood-exposed citizens and coastal communities better.
During the legislative process, I fought to ensure that every coastal resident and business has access to the flood program at affordable rates, to increase investment in mitigation and to instill more accountability at FEMA. I am particularly pleased with the following achievements that will help Jersey Shore residents:
- A full five-year reauthorization
- A guarantee that all flood-exposed properties in participating communities, including new construction, can continue to participate in the program. I amended the bill to guarantee this since the original bill excluded new construction in special flood hazard areas.
- A reduction in how high premiums can increase for homes built before flood maps were produced by the federal government. I am still working to bring rates down further before a floor vote.
- I successfully removed a harmful provision that would have punished homeowners who had suffered two losses of $1,000 by slapping them with a $5,000 deductible. This deductible will now only apply to severe and extreme repetitive loss properties.
- I worked to add bill language prohibiting FEMA from hiring disbarred attorneys, a practice that was rampant during the Sandy claims review process. People who aren’t qualified to practice law shouldn’t be hired to settle claims.
- I worked on doubling the Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage from $30,000 to $60,000 to help residents elevate their homes and engage other strategies to protect against future flood risk. Importantly, the bill also authorizes the Director to pay ICC coverage amounts in advance of a loss, if mitigation efforts are likely to prevent future covered losses.
- I worked to add amendment language to stop FEMA from imposing unfunded mandates on local mayors of flood-exposed communities.
The people whose lives were turned upside down by Sandy are ordinary Americans who pay their taxes and expect their government to be there when a natural disaster strikes. I’m grateful I was able to fight for them and work with the committee to reform and protect this vital program. It’s my hope that now the entire Congress will act quickly to pass this bill.