Jun 23 2011

Shelby: We Can Have the Best Flood Insurance Program in the World

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today submitted for the record the following statement at a Committee hearing on the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. 

STATEMENT OF SENATOR RICHARD C. SHELBY

Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

June 23, 2011

 “Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

“This year has been marked by extreme weather and natural disasters across the country.  My own state was devastated by massive and deadly tornados in April.  According to NOAA, the United States has suffered eight natural disasters each costing in excess of $1billion.  The total damage is $32 billion and rising.

“While these natural disasters include droughts, fires and tornados, the historic flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers has dominated the headlines lately.  Unfortunately, the flooding may not end for months because rainstorms continue in the Midwest and last winter’s snowfall is still melting.

“To make matters worse, many communities that thought they were protected by levees have been flooded due to intentional breaches by the Army Corps of Engineers. We may see even more extreme weather later this year as the National Weather Service predicts that 2011 will be a “busier-than-usual” hurricane season.  The severity of this year’s weather highlights the need for the National Flood Insurance Program to be reauthorized and placed on a sustainable path. 

“For nearly six years, Congress has been unable to pass a long-term reauthorization of the flood program.  The short-term extensions have kept the program alive, but have prevented the implementation of important reforms.  This has made it difficult for communities in high-risk flood zones to plan for the future.  Accordingly, it is my hope that this year we can pass a long-term extension of the flood program that includes the reforms needed to make the program “actuarially sound.”

“I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses and hope that they can provide further insights on how the flood program should be modernized. I am especially interested in hearing what can be done to increase participation in the program.

“We know that most people that need flood insurance do not have it.  We must explore ways to change that. We can have the best flood insurance program in the world, but it will do little good if people do not participate.

“Although the flood program expires in a few months, I am confident that the Committee can successfully work together to, once again, pass bipartisan legislation. 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”