Emphasizing the Importance of Flood Insurance
Hurricane Katrina made it painfully clear that we need a strong and functional National Flood Insurance Program to be there for our constituents in times of crisis. One way to do that is through increasing participation in the program. That is why I have introduced bipartisan legislation to create a grant program to educate property owners about their flood risk and about the importance of flood insurance – the Flood Insurance Community Outreach Grant Program Act of 2006.
This grant program has already proven to be successful. It is based on an educational outreach initiative by our local flood control agency – the Sacrament Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA). Last year, SAFCA conducted a flood insurance outreach effort with a $162,000 FEMA grant, which had impressive results. SAFCA targeted 45,000 policyholders in the American River Floodplain (they had been released from federal flood insurance requirements in February of 2005). For FEMA to recoup its initial grant to SAFCA, 550 Preferred Risk Policies had to be sold to property owners. SAFCA did this more than twenty times over. One year after the outreach 74% had maintained their flood insurance and of this group 43% now carry preferred risk flood insurances.
Through this local effort we learned two things. The first is that people whose houses, apartments and businesses are vulnerable to flooding will purchase and retain their flood insurance when they are informed of the risk they face and the options available to them. And that our floodplain managers are our best partners to reach these individuals.
The bottom line is that this grant program will, in addition to ensuring people who live in flood plain have the financial protection they need in case of a flood, strengthen the national flood insurance program itself by increasing the number of people who carry and retain their flood insurance.
And that moves the National Flood Insurance Program towards the stability it needs.