Durbin: Senate Passes Bill that Will Allow Metro East to Avoid High Flood Insurance Premiums While Upgrading Levees

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today said that the Flood Insurance legislation that passed the Senate today will allow Metro East, Illinois officials to take steps to avoid unreasonably high flood insurance premiums while the community is working to upgrade the region’s levee system.  The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act aims to help communities qualify for lower rates if they are in the process of constructing or reconstructing flood protection systems. Three Metro East counties – Madison, Monroe and St. Clair – are currently raising $150 million through local taxes to pay for the improvements to their levees. 


“Several years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA notified local officials that the Metro East region was mapped into a floodplain which triggered mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements until the levee was improved.  Well, those rates are about to go up dramatically which isn’t fair to the residents and businesses in the Metro East who have, unlike any other community in America, taken responsibility and taxed themselves,” said Durbin. 


“Today’s legislation, which must now be passed by the House of Representatives, will give local Metro East an opportunity to avoid this unreasonable increase in premiums while the levees are being improved.  I salute their effort to better protect their communities from flooding and I will continue to do my part to support them in Congress.”


In 2010, Durbin secured an administrative fix that extended eligibility for Metro East property owners to be included in FEMA’s Preferred Risk Policy – the agency’s lowest-cost flood insurance policy.  While this fix allowed more time for levee upgrades while, again, ensuring that residents and businesses are financially protected in the event of a flood, it recently expired.  The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would give Metro East officials the opportunity through a series of administrative steps to maintain a reduced rate for flood insurance policies in the region while the work to improve the levees continues. 


Since 2007, Durbin worked with federal, state and local officials to prevent residents and businesses from facing unreasonably high flood insurance rates while ensuring that they are financially protected in the event of a flood.  In response to a 2008 request from Durbin and former-U.S. Representative Jerry Costello (D-IL), 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.