In the Wake of Hurricane Michael, Crist, Williams Move to Help Homeowners and Businesses Better Protect Property From Storm Damage

October 19, 2018 by TWN Staff
Brian Bon inspects damages in the Panama City, Fla., downtown area after Hurricane Michael made landfall along Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

In the wake of Hurricane Michael, a fast-moving storm that recently devastated the Florida Panhandle, Representatives Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Roger Williams (R-TX) have come together to address the high cost of flood insurance premiums. The two collaborated at a time when partisanship is at its highest, just before the midterm elections, to introduce bipartisan legislation that they contend is necessary to protect both public safety and the economy.

The lawmakers argue the “State Flood Mitigation Revolving Fund Act” (H.R. 7037) would drive down flood insurance premiums by creating a low-interest loan program to help property owners better protect their homes and businesses from storm damage, ultimately reducing post-disaster claims.

“Bringing down flood insurance premiums while helping folks better protect their homes from storm damage is a win-win for Pinellas families and businesses. Mitigation is key to reducing post-disaster relief costs, saving taxpayer dollars, and building more resilient communities in the face of more extreme weather and rising sea levels. The devastating storms we’ve seen within the last year speak to the urgent need for federal action on flood mitigation programs, protecting public safety and our economy,” said Crist.

Modeled after the successful Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds, H.R. 7037 would establish a state revolving loan program to help fund flood mitigation projects for homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, and communities. The program would help states offer low-interest loans to NFIP participants for flood mitigation projects to better protect their properties, reducing post-disaster claims. For those participating in the program, FEMA would offer NFIP premium reductions in line with mitigation efforts taken.

“Flooding is the most common and costliest natural disaster in the United States and it was past time to address the need for mitigation. This legislation will prevent federal post-disaster spending and minimize the unforeseen burdens on American families, as well as the economy,” said Williams.

In a letter to Crist and Williams, Pew Charitable Trusts, Association of State Floodplain Managers, Association of State Wetland Managers, Enterprise Community Partners, Consumer Mortgage Coalition and Union of Concerned Scientists offered strong support for the legislation, referencing its promotion of flood mitigation, flood insurance affordability and assistance for low-income families.

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