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Proposed Flood Insurance Legislation Could Help Fairfield

First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Assistant Plan and Zoning Director Jim Wendt reviewing hazard mitigation grant applications.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Assistant Plan and Zoning Director Jim Wendt reviewing hazard mitigation grant applications. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Federal lawmakers are proposing legislation to make flood insurance more affordable.

More than 134 members of the House of Representatives recently introduced legislation to fix the National Flood Insurance Program. The proposed legislation, known as the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, calls for a four-year delay to the NFIP and requires the Federal Emergency Management agency to "complete an affordability study and propose a framework that addresses affordability issues," representatives said.

First Selectman Mike Tetreau praised the the proposed legislation.

"If this important proposed legislation is approved, it will be a welcome change for some of our residents, especially those affected by Storm Sandy, who are facing the burden of flood insurance rate increases," he said in a release. "A multi-year delay to this federal program will be a big help in making some much needed changes.”

The legislation seeks to achieve the following, according to a release:

• Impose a delay likely to total four years for the most vulnerable properties, by delaying implementation of rate increases until two years after FEMA completes an affordability study, which was mandated in Biggert-Waters, but not undertaken. FEMA has estimated it will take two years to complete the affordability study. It would then take up to an additional two years for FEMA to submit an affordability framework to Congress and for Congress to review the framework. This means rate increases would be delayed for four years in total. The delay applies to primary, non-repetitive loss residences that are currently grandfathered; all properties sold after July 6, 2012; and all properties that purchased a new policy after July 6, 2012; and

• Require FEMA to propose an affordability framework that addresses the identified affordability issues within 18 months after the completion of the study and provides six months for Congressional review; and

• Allow FEMA to utilize National Flood Insurance Funds to reimburse policyholders who successfully appeal a map determination; and

• Eliminate the 50 percent cap on state and local contributions to levee construction and reconstruction;

• Protect the so-called “basement exception,” which allows the lowest proofed opening in a home to be used for determining flood insurance rates; and

• Establish a Flood Insurance Rate Map Advocate within FEMA to answer current and prospective policyholder questions about the flood mapping process; and

• Require FEMA to certify that the agency has fully adopted a modernized risk-based approach to analyzing flood risk.

For questions or further information on the proposed legislation, Fairfield residents are asked to contact Congressman Jim Himes’s aide, Amy Lappos, at Amy.Lappos@mail.house.gov or call (866) 453-0028.

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