— Official News Release, Senator Hoeven —
During a recent Senate hearing, Senator John Hoeven urged Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to help control the cost of flood insurance by working closely with local communities to ensure the agency’s flood plain mapping process considers ongoing efforts to build permanent flood protection.
Hoeven serves as the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security, where he oversees the agency’s more than $40 billion budget, including $11.2 billion for FEMA. The hearing is part of Senator Hoeven’s ongoing efforts to ensure that FEMA’s flood maps adequately reflect how flood control projects in Fargo and other North Dakota communities are reducing the flood risk to homes and businesses in the flood plain.
“We need to make sure that FEMA’s flood mapping dovetails with the communities’ flood protection projects so that their efforts are reflected in their insurance rates,” Hoeven said. “These projects are often done in phases, so flood maps and insurance rates should be coordinated with each phase of the project and adjusted downward based on the new protections that are put in place. FEMA needs to do this in all North Dakota communities, which are working hard to build robust flood protection. It makes a real difference for the families and businesses that live and work in these communities.”
Earlier this month, Hoeven hosted a roundtable in Fargo with Roy Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation with FEMA. During the meeting, the senator reviewed the impacts of FEMA’s new flood plain maps on insurance rates and the agency’s future plans for remapping. The senator is working toward a four-part, comprehensive flood protection plan for the Red River Valley (RRV), including:
- Regional flood protection including dikes, levees and other flood protection infrastructure. The federal government has contributed nearly $36 million toward such projects in the Fargo area since 2011, which includes over $16 million for home buyouts to prevent future losses, nearly $15 million for water and sewer system updates and nearly $5 million for new and updated infrastructure, such as bridge replacements and levees.
- Upstream flood protection. Hoeven worked as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and conferee on the 2014 farm bill conference committee to create programs and provide funding for rural water management and flood protection, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Agricultural Conservation Easements Program (ACEP). Last July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will use these programs to provide $50 million in targeted assistance to the region to address upstream concerns.
- Hoeven also worked to include other conservation programs in the farm bill that support additional flood protection, like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The USDA named the RRV as part of a critical conservation area under RCPP and, earlier this year, awarded the Red River Retention Authority $12 million from the program, which will help support upstream flood protection efforts.
- Permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead. Hoeven last year worked to secure authorization for permanent flood protection for Fargo-Moorhead in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Previously, the senator worked to secure $35 million for project engineering and design (PED) through the annual appropriations process. Further, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 funding bill includes language allowing the administration to start new construction projects, which helps make the Fargo-Moorhead flood protection project competitive for funding.
- Affordable flood insurance premiums for homes and businesses. Senator Hoeven worked to pass the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which prevents steep flood insurance rate increases, helping ensure that premiums are affordable for American families and businesses. The legislation also continues to allow homeowners to receive credit for flood proofed basements when determining flood insurance rates by allowing for basements to be measured at the lowest opening rather than the lowest floor.
Earlier this year, Hoeven announced that FEMA Administrator Fugate approved the City of Fargo’s application for the basement exception in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The senator organized a delegation letter of support in December pressing Fugate to approve the request.
United States Senator John Hoeven for North Dakota