March 23, 2018 / 8:38 PM / a month ago

Advocates praise U.S. federal flood insurance funding

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Advocates who have been pushing for renewal of the U.S. federal flood insurance programs in the wake of last year’s devastating hurricanes and floods praised Congress for extending the program through July 31.

But advocates remained concerned that Congress has not yet acted on a permanent solution. The SmarterSafter Coalition, a group of insurance, taxpayer, environmental and housing organizations, repeated its call that a permanent fix is needed.

The extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was included in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed on Friday by President Donald Trump.

Legislation that would drastically overhaul the insurance program has stalled in the U.S. Senate after passage in the House of Representative. Supporters of the overhaul say it would improve the amount of choice in the marketplace and stabilize rates. Critics have voiced concern it could result in drastic price increases for some flood-prone areas.

“This is the fourth time Congress has punted on much-needed reforms to the nation’s ailing flood insurance system — but we are hopeful that it will be the last,” the coalition said in a statement.

“With the NFIP now set to expire in four months, we look forward to working with lawmakers to expand these efforts and advance comprehensive reforms that save taxpayer dollars and better protect people and property in harm’s way,” the coalition said.

Laura Lightbody, who directs Pew Charitable Trusts’ flood-prepared communities initiative, said the spending bill increased funding for two critical programs. One will seek to mitigate future disasters and another to improve the mapping technology to properly assess the risk of future floods.

“Neither program has seen this large of an appropriation in the past 10 years,” she said.

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by Suzanne Barlyn; Editing by Leslie Adler

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