Thursday, April 22, 2010

US National Flood Insurance Program in crisis has a transcript of David R. Conrad, Senior Water Resources Specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, testifying before Congress. Here’s a snip about flood insurance: … The [National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP] currently faces a debt of $18.75 billion to the U.S. Treasury, a debt service which is likely to rise in the near future, annual revenues of only $3 billion and virtually no possibility of being able to repay the debt from program revenues. It is in essence bankrupt. …

…The NFIP was originally founded on a strategy developed by eminent scientists and government officials in the early 1960's which combined the ideas of identifying flood risks (generally through mapping), developing and implementing risk-reducing land use and building codes, and providing affordable insurance that was not otherwise available in the private markets. Forty years later, we find major failures on each of these fronts, we believe largely because of failure to charge actuarially sound rates and to aggressively mitigate risks….

…The NFIP has failed to adequately restrict growth in high-risk floodprone and environmentally-sensitive areas. Additionally, there is growing evidence that frequency and severity of major storms and hurricanes are increasing in many areas due in part to climate change and sea-level rise factors and land development, yet the NFIP has done little to anticipate the enormous potential for flood-related losses these changes portend.

Climate change is causing heavier rainfall, changing patterns of snowfall, bringing more severe hurricanes, and increasing sea level, all of which will increase flooding risk and likely exacerbate already increasing flooding damage. Across the nation, precipitation is already more likely to fall in heavy downpours than in light sprinkles, a trend expected to continue as the atmosphere continues warming….

An aerial view of the flood-stricken town of Vernonia, Oregon, Dec. 4, 2007, from an Oregon Army National Guard helicopter

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