Durbin: Flood Maps Will Not Take Effect Until 2011

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that, at his urging, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to delay the implementation of the new flood maps for the St. Louis region for at least one year. Durbin also announced that he will be introducing comprehensive legislation in the Senate within the next few months to protect residents and businesses in the event of a major flood.


“FEMA’s decision today will help property owners who faced dramatic increases in flood insurance this year,” said Durbin. “But last summer, we were reminded of the damage that can follow in the wake of severe storms. The levees in the Metro East region are unsound and another major flood, though rare, could devastate the region. It is irresponsible to leave thousands who have invested millions in their homes and businesses financially unprotected while the levees are being repaired. I will continue working with FEMA and Congressman Costello to find a permanent solution.”


In letters to both Durbin and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL), FEMA pledged to continue working with both offices to responsibly implement the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps no sooner than 2011. The new maps – originally scheduled to take effect sometime this year – are part of a nationwide effort to remap flood plains across the nation in order to identify and reduce the financial and physical impact of floods.


Durbin’s legislation will address the need to protect property owners that are located in the newly identified floodplain. Both FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers have gathered overwhelming evidence that the Metro East levees are not structurally sound and would likely fail to hold back floodwaters in the event of a major storm. A serious flood could displace thousands of residents and result in millions of dollars in damages.


Previously, in response to a 2008 request from Durbin and Costello, FEMA agreed to prevent Illinois residents and businesses from facing significantly higher flood insurance premiums years before their Missouri counterparts. This move leveled the playing field in the St. Louis region and ensured that FEMA’s new flood maps would not take effect on the Illinois side of the Mississippi before the Missouri side.


[The text of today’s letter is below]


Dear Senator Durbin,


Based on recent coordination with your offices, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is re-affirming its commitment to continue to work closely with communities in the St. Louis metropolitan area. As you are aware, we have issued preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for comment and have received additional information from a variety of sources. Providing an opportunity for people to comment and collecting their input are very important parts of our mapping process.


We will review all the information provided and work with local government officials on the path ahead. Given the volume of comments we have received and other required administrative steps, the FIRMs for these areas will not become final for at least one year.


We will continue to keep your offices appraised of issues as we move ahead. Like you, we feel it is important for people to understand the risks they face so that they can make informed decisions for their families and businesses.


If you have any additional questions, please have a member of your staff contact Pat Hart in the FEMA Legislative Affairs Division by telephone at (202) 646-4500.




Deborah S. Ingram

Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Mitigation