Durbin Introduces Legislation to Delay Flood Map Implementation for Five Years

As 111th Congress comes to a close, standalone bill offers opportunity for Congressional approval this year

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in introducing a bill to delay the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement for five years in communities with newly designated flood maps across the country – including Metro East, Illinois where up to 30,000 properties will be affected.


“I have been working closely with members of the Senate Banking Committee including Senator Schumer to see that the House passed language is included in the Senate version of legislation reauthorizing the flood insurance program,” said Durbin. “Since it is increasingly unlikely that the larger Banking Committee bill will reach the Senate floor this year, Senator Schumer and I are introducing a narrowly tailored version -- the Flood Insurance Affordability and Risk Notification Act. We still face a challenge but this specific bill stands a better chance of getting the job done this year.”


Similar language authored by Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) was included in the Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act of 2010 (H.R.5114) recently passed by the House of Representatives. While Durbin asked the Senate Banking Committee to include the language in their version of comprehensive flood insurance legislation, it is highly unlikely that the Committee will finish and the Senate will approve a bill this year. A standalone bill offers a greater opportunity for the delay to be approved by the Senate on its own or incorporated in a larger piece of legislation before the end of the year.


“Like the House-passed language, our bill provides a five-year delay which would be followed by a five-year period where insurance rates would be phased in incrementally. The additional time would be especially helpful for places like Metro East St. Louis, where the local community has developed an aggressive plan to upgrade the levees to ensure protection against a 100-year flood event,” added Durbin.


The Durbin-Schumer Flood Insurance Affordability and Risk Notification Act includes provisions that would give communities time to fully understand the new flood risk shown by these modern flood maps while giving relief to homeowners and businesses. Today’s bill:


  • Establishes two five-year periods designed to allow communities and homeowners in newly mapped flood zones to fully understand their flood risk.

    • During the first five years, FEMA’s mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement would not apply in newly mapped flood zones. Owners required under current law to purchase coverage because their property was included in a new flood insurance rate map that became effective later than August 31, 2008, would no longer be required to purchase a policy for five years after the effective date of the map. Flood insurance would still be encouraged and available under this delay, however it would not be mandatory.
    • Following this five-year delay, the purchase requirement would be phased in over five years. These new provisions would allow for reasonable, gradual incorporation of newly mapped flood zone areas with discounts as high as 80 percent immediately following the five-year delay.

  • Requires FEMA to perform outreach to communities and homeowners who are affected by changes in floodplain maps. FEMA would be required to notify all property owners when their properties are included or excluded from these new maps and to educate homeowners about their risk to flooding and educate them about ways to mitigate that risk.