“While the NFIP is in desperate need of improvements — from protecting homeowners from outrageous premiums and storm victims from fraud and abuse — the program cannot be allowed to lapse,” Sen. Schumer said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
On the heels of historic Hurricane Harvey, and south Florida in Irma’s crosshairs, Congress twiddles its collective thumbs as the National Flood Insurance Program inches closer to expiration.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer recently said that without “swift action” from the Legislative branch, come Sept. 30, flood-prone communities and cities across America could be in jeopardy.
“Right now the entire nation is awestruck by the cataclysmic damage delivered by Hurricane Harvey and our hearts are heavy for Texans in its path. For those of us here in New York, flashbacks of [Superstorm] Sandy are made vivid by the torrent of Harvey. That is why, as this dangerous storm continues to churn, and as hurricane season itself continues to spin, we cannot and must not allow the national flood insurance program to expire,” Schumer said last week. “While the NFIP is in desperate need of improvements —
from protecting homeowners from outrageous premiums and storm victims from fraud and abuse — the program cannot be allowed to lapse, because then tens-of-thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans would be in jeopardy.”
The NFIP covers more than 186,000 policyholders in the Empire State; part of approximately five million that are protected nationwide. As of late Wednesday afternoon, there was no movement on the Hill regarding even a temporary reauthorization of the program.
“New York City depends upon the NFIP and in order to ensure that it continues to work as it should, it first must be up and running if, God forbid, another hurricane were to head for us,” Schumer added. “That is why I am urging Congress to extend this program and work across the aisle to get it done.”
Schumer noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides homeowners with flood insurance through the NFIP, which was established by Congress in 1968 because most private insurers had stopped offering flood insurance policies.
According to FEMA: “The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.”
The last NFIP reauthorization passed in 2012. Between 2008 and 2012, Schumer pointed out that the program was extended 17 times and lapsed 4 times. New York’s senior senator said that if Congress fails to act, a lapse in NFIP would mean uncertainty that ranges from individuals not being able to purchase a new home because that home requires flood protection, to homeowners at risk of drastic flood damage not being able to renew their coverage, and many more questions as to how the program would function during the middle of hurricane season.
Schumer also noted that while NFIP is not perfect, it must be extended. Allowing the program to lapse during hurricane season would be “irresponsible,” and could wind up costing homeowners and businesses in the five boroughs dearly.