North Carolina is home to some of our nation’s most pristine beaches and waterways. They serve as an economic lifeline to our fishermen, boaters, coastal communities, and inland communities alike. Our picturesque lakes, rivers, and beaches have garnered an international reputation as top tourist destinations. With such natural beauty and economic importance, it is no wonder so many North Carolinians choose to live near or on our scenic waters.
However, all of us who live in proximity to rivers, lakes, and coastal areas know all too well how devastating hurricanes and floods can be to the safety of our homes, businesses, and loved ones.
Along with important storm damage prevention methods like elevated structures and well-nourished beaches, it is vital that all North Carolinians have access to affordable flood insurance to protect them from the devastating effects of natural disasters.
That is why I’m leading the charge to fight the dramatic flood insurance rate increases that were set in motion in the 2012 Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. While this legislation was initially passed in an effort to bring much-needed certainty to the markets and make the National Flood Insurance Program more sustainable, the poor implementation of the Federal Emergency Management Association, inaccurate mapping, and incomplete data has led to unreasonable and unforeseen increases in premiums for millions of policy holders across the country.
Right here at home in Southeastern North Carolina, we are already feeling the strain on housing sales and small business operations as the Biggert Waters Act goes into effect. And it is not just our coastal homeowners who are concerned about these rate hikes; thousands of properties from the mountains to the Piedmont are also affected by these premium increases.
These flood insurance rate hikes threaten to send shockwaves through our housing market and slow our local economies. That’s why I am 1000 percent committed to make flood insurance affordable and stop the premium increases.
My efforts to address this problem include:
— I have addressed concerns with the implementation of the Biggert Waters Act directly with officials at FEMA.
— Implored the leaders of the House and Senate to fast-track legislation to delay and modify the pending insurance increases.
— Co-sponsored a new bipartisan legislative solution to fix the National Flood Insurance program in an affordable way. The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which was recently introduced in both the House and Senate, gives relief to our coastal home owners by delaying the Biggert Waters flood insurance rate increases by four years, until FEMA makes the program affordable. The bill also holds FEMA accountable for affordability issues and provides recourse for those home-owners who were incorrectly mapped into increased-risk flood zones.
I look forward to advancing this bi-partisan, bicameral legislation soon, so we can provide immediate relief to those facing unreasonable premium increases.
Flood insurance affects us all, and North Carolinians deserve to be protected from storms, flooding, and exorbitant flood insurance rates! I will keep fighting to ensure our national flood insurance program is both sustainabl eand affordable for everyone in our state.
Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton native, is the U.S. representative for District 7, which includes part of Robeson County.