Flood insurance program in jeopardy

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Sept.30, 2010, the National Flood Insurance Program will be restricted from selling new and renewing existing residential and commercial policies unless Congress votes to extend funding for the program. Already this year, Congress has allowed the NFIP to lapse in coverage for weeks creating a problem for those seeking to get coverage before the start of hurricane season. It takes 30 days from the time a person signs up for the program for the flood coverage to take effect. Creating additional delays in coverage will once again leave many Louisianans vulnerable.

It is difficult to understand why the federal government would allow a vital component of disaster coverage in the United States to become unavailable as we are still in the midst of hurricane season.

We have already seen 11 named storms threaten the United States and we are only a little more than half way through hurricane season.

The National Hurricane Center predicted an active hurricane season this year, and so far, the Center has been right.

This month, Tropical Storm Hermine caused massive flooding in Texas and Oklahoma leaving entire areas underwater.

But, flooding, unlike hurricanes, is not a seasonal disaster. Just this spring, storms produced historical flooding in areas of Tennessee and New England.

Louisiana knows all to well the impact from massive flooding. Hurricane Katrina produced $13.1 billion in flood claims and one month later, Hurricane Rita added an additional $336 million to that total.

The lesson learned by so many was to buy flood insurance for future storm protection. But what happens when flood insurance becomes unavailable? Where do people turn for protection?

NFIP has saved so many impacted by the devastation of flooding.

In many cases, it is the only financial relief people received.

Congress must act to extend funding for the Program. Contact Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, as well as your representative and tell them to make this a priority by voting to extend the National Flood Insurance Program.

– Jim Harris

The Gulf State Insurance

Information Center

Baton Rouge