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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Vote Notes: H.R. 5846, Promoting Flood Risk Mitigation Act

Jul 16, 2018
Blog Post


Today, the House passed a bill that I introduced with several colleagues - Representative Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, and Sean Duffy - that would review the federal government’s current program of FEMA buyouts for repeatedly-flooded properties.

Why does this matter? Several reasons….

Massively destructive storms have become more common in recent decades. For example, in Charleston, there were fewer than five days of flooding annually in the late 1950s, but in 2016, there were a record 50 days of flooding. King Tides are something all of us have come to learn about in the Lowcountry.

At an individual level, this has meant devastating losses for so many in the wake of storms like Katrina, and Matthew. And it’s also meant that those areas that are prone to flooding are doing so more often and to a greater extent.

At a federal level, this has meant more frequent and more costly rebuilding costs...sometimes multiple times for the same structures. Indeed, repeatedly-flooded properties account for a disproportionate amount of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) payouts, representing only about 1% of all currently insured properties but account for 25% of all flood claims. Some of the most severely flooded properties have been rebuilt up to 40 times...and others have received payouts that cumulatively exceed the value of the property many times over.

In short this is madness for the taxpayer and homeowner.The voluntary buyout program, which was intended to remedy the impact of repeated flooding, can take years. In fact, on average it takes five years....and during this time the house often floods again...and this means yet another bill for the taxpayer.

Senator Tim Scott and Senator Brian Schatz introduced a Senate version, so my hope is that there will be a swift vote on that side of Congress.

Flood insurance buyouts are the ultimate form of mitigation. Indeed, every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation saves $8 in avoided future damages. That seems well worth it.

The current system needs improvement, and this bill will help to streamline the process.

I had this to say on the House floor today...take a look and give me your thoughts…..