Smart Bites for July 22, 2013


TIME MAGAZINE: HURRICANE SANDY SHOWS NEED FOR NFIP FIX: TIME Magazine reports that Hurricane Sandy, which cost $70 billion in damages and lost economic output, is an example of how the price of extreme weather will continue to rise if the NFIP is not reformed. “More than 5.5 million homes are protected via the National Flood Insurance Program and a little less than 20 percent of those homes — usually those who live in the most dangerous areas — receive flood insurance at heavily subsidized rates. The result is a perverse incentive for homeowners to continue to live in areas that are likely to be hit by storms and floods, knowing that the cost of rebuilding will be effectively socialized by the rest of us. At a time when we should be seriously thinking about retreating from the most high-risk coastal areas, government policy inadvertently supports living on top of the sea.” Click here to read more.

FEMA PULLS FIGURE THAT CONTAINED $31,000 FIGURE FOR “WORST-CASE SCENARIO” FLOOD INSURANCE RATES: The Asbury Park Press reports that a brochure on building smarter that contained a $31,500 figure has been pulled from a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. No official from the National Flood Insurance Program or FEMA would provide the basis for exaggerated figure. “People were looking at the worst-case scenario and thought that would be their rates,” said Leo Cunningham, a hazard mitigation specialist for FEMA, explaining why the brochure was removed. A FEMA document titled “The NFIP’s Specific Rate Guidelines,” has been revised to read “It is important to note that a small number of flood insurance policies protecting properties in very high-risk coastal areas (VE zones) — where wave action combined with high water causes increased damage — will see significantly higher premiums which could be in excess of $20,000 in rare cases.” Click here to read more.

FEMA PROVIDES SOME CLARITY ON FLOOD RATES: The R Street Institute reports FEMA is now providing clearer guidance on what updated federal flood insurance rates will look under the Bigger-Waters Act, contradicting claims of several lawmakers from the Gulf Coast – led by Rep. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) – that rates could see a massive rise of 5,000 percent under the law. “In making the case for delay, Landrieu and company have been throwing around those inflated claims of $30,000 flood insurance premiums to anyone who will listen. But FEMA, thankfully, is now providing clearer guidance on what updated rates will look like, and the reality doesn’t exactly match the alarmist rhetoric.” Click here to read more. is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.