Improvements Are Still Needed in the Administration of the Flood Insurance Program

CED-79-58: Published: Mar 22, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1979.

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Although 16,000 communities participated in the National Flood Insurance Program in 1978, the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) estimated that 20,000 communities are in danger of floods and should be participating in the program.

Most of the resources of FIA were directed toward the mapping program. Rate maps are used to determine the actuarial insurance rates for properties in the flood hazard area, but there were frequent complaints at the community level concerning map quality. FIA policies allowed the replacement of structures in the floodway. New construction that raises the height of the 100-year flood level by as much as one foot can cause damage to the existing structures. Using the 100-year flood plain as the single national standard, regardless of regional flooding conditions, continues to cause controversy. There is a need for more technical help, training, and communications with communities. FIA made relatively few monitoring visits to communities. There were weaknesses in the annual reporting system; for example, restricting the reporting data to the flood plain does not give an adequate picture of construction activity which could affect flooding conditions.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should have FIA: provide communities with detailed map data; establish a cost- sharing arrangement with localities for remapping work; and prepare its rate maps to reflect community flood plain standards. The Secretary should also have FIA increase emphasis on features of flood plain management that will lead to minimizing flood damages to the community, and reevaluate its policy on equal density replacement. The State agencies should have a role in the program; a training program should be initiated to address the needs of local officials; and a newsletter should inform communities of program changes and developments. The appropriateness of the 100-year flood plain as a national standard should be evaluated. The Secretary should have FIA make more visits to communities, and the reporting format for evaluation visits should be improved. Data should be collected on construction outside the flood plain which could lead to increased storm water runoff.

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