Undermining preparedness: flood mapping budget slashed


capitol_dome“The government’s response to the rising need for accurate [flood insurance] maps? It’s slashed funding for them,” reports ProPublica. Washington’s complicity in undermining preparedness for extreme events is bipartisan: Congress has cut the flood mapping budget by more than half since 2010 and Obama has requested additional major cuts.

Pro Publica reported:

As Need for New Flood Maps Rises, Congress and Obama Cut Funding

As the United States grows warmer and extreme weather more common, the federal government’s flood insurance maps are becoming increasingly important.

The maps, drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dictate the monthly premiums millions of American households pay for flood insurance. They are also designed to give homeowners and buyers the latest understanding of how likely their communities are to flood.

The government’s response to the rising need for accurate maps? It’s slashed funding for them.

Congress has cut funding for updating flood maps by more than half since 2010, from $221 million down to $100 million this year. And the president’s latest budget request would slash funding for mapping even further to $84 million — a drop of 62 percent over the last four years. …

In a little-noticed written response to questions from a congressional hearing, FEMA estimated the cuts would delay its map program by three to five years. The cuts have slowed efforts to update flood maps across the country. …

FEMA also funds its maps through the National Flood Insurance Program. It takes a small slice of homeowners’ flood insurance premiums, about $150 million in the 2013 fiscal year. But the flood insurance program is also in trouble, and income from the premiums is already stretched thin. The program has more than $20 billion in debt after paying out massive claims after Katrina and Sandy, and it took in only $3.6 billion in premiums last year.

The experiences of some homeowners after Sandy illustrate the dangers of outdated flood maps. …

Earlier CSW posts:

Undermining preparedness: National Weather Service cutbacks

Federal budget sequestration begins to undercut extreme event preparedness

Flood Insurance Reform Act could promote better climate preparedness

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