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Rubio, Durbin, Quigley & Duckworth Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Address Flooding Events & Help FEMA Better Assess Risks

May 2, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL-05) and Francis Rooney (R-FL-19) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Flood Mapping Modernization and Homeowner Empowerment Pilot Program Act of 2019 to help communities nationwide better prepare for future flood events. The legislation will provide cities and towns with the tools they need to address flooding in a local context and encourage the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to apply lessons learned nationwide.
 
Last month, Senator Rubio introduced the Flood Insurance Rate Map Interagency Technology (FIRM IT) Act of 2019, which aims to improve Flood Hazard Identification in FEMA Maps.
 
“The people of Florida know all too well the devastating impact flooding and natural disasters can have on local communities, businesses, and lives. This important, bipartisan legislation would ensure Florida’s cities and towns are better prepared to understand and mitigate against future floods. More Floridians participate in the National Flood Insurance Program than any other state, and it is imperative that proactive investments are made so that our flood maps accurately reflect potential risks and our communities can better prepare for future catastrophes.” Rubio said.
 
“Storms are growing stronger, bringing record amounts of rainfall year after year. Something that is overlooked is how this trend has impacted urban environments, and currently we lack the data needed to develop effective solutions to limit damage,” Durbin said. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bill that provides desperately needed data about flood risk urban neighborhoods and communities. If we can help local government understand the scope of their problem, then we can better develop solutions.”

“Communities in Illinois and around the country are facing the impacts of flooding – damaging property and infrastructure and costing homeowners. Residents of many urban areas are unaware of the hazards that even just a few inches of rain can cause. That danger is exaggerated by out of date and inadequate understanding of the type and location of floods we face. I’m proud to have authored this bipartisan legislation to give cities and towns the resources and tools they’ll need to address flooding challenges.” Quigley said.
 
“Every year, communities in Illinois and across the country struggle to plan for and recover from urban flooding,” Duckworth said. “One of the best things we can do to protect our cities and towns is ensure they have the tools, resources and research they need to prepare for urban flooding. This legislation and the pilot program it establishes will do just that, leading to a better understanding of flood risks in order to better protect home and business owners and help prevent and mitigate damage caused by urban flooding.”
 
“Providing greater availability of tools to assist local governments in flood plain mapping is critical to preventing future property damage and potential loss of life due to flooding. Cities and counties are the entities closest to this problem and they should be included in finding the best solutions. This bipartisan legislation is a good start to dealing with damage related to flooding all across the country,” Rooney said.
 
Urban flooding frequently occurs outside the regulatory floodplain, and FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) do not always accurately indicate flood risk in these areas, resulting in uncertainty of the hazards at hand.  The Illinois General Assembly conducted a study in June 2015, which examined flood insurance claims in the state and revealed that over 90% of urban flooding damage claims from 2007 to 2014 were outside the FIRM floodplain.
 
By providing demonstration grants for cities to invest in innovative mapping technologies, the Flood Mapping Modernization and Homeowner Empowerment Pilot Program Act of 2019 allows constituents the opportunity more accurately assess their flood risks. The legislation also allow them to develop better communication tools, urban design measures, and flood mitigation policies that would put them in a stronger position to protect their communities. Once each pilot program expires, the information gathered and lessons learned would be sent to Congress and FEMA to fully assess each city’s best practices and to apply them to FEMA’s National Flood Mapping Program.