Floods inflict more damage and economic losses upon the United States than any other natural disaster. During the 10 years from fiscal year 1992 through fiscal year 2001, flooding resulted in approximately $55 billion in damages. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for managing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program uses flood maps to identify the areas at greatest risk of flooding and make insurance available to property owners to protect themselves from flood losses. According to FEMA, many of the nation's flood maps are more than 10 years old and no longer reflect current flood hazard risks because of erosion and changes in drainage patterns. Moreover, because many flood maps were created or last updated, there have been improvements in the techniques for assessing and displaying flood risks. This testimony is based on GAO's findings and recommendations in its March 2004 report related to (1) how map modernization intended to improve the accuracy and accessibility of the nation's flood maps, (2) what the expected benefits of more accurate and accessible flood maps are, and (3) to what extent FEMA's strategy for managing the map modernization program support the achievement of these benefits.
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