Thursday, January 30, 2014

US Senate Passes Bill to Delay Implementation of BW12

2/12/14 Update:  Here is a FEMA FAQ about the impacts of this bill on the implementation of BW12

There have been several articles (Washington Post, NYT) published today that provided details on the US Senate's passage of a bill to delay the implementation of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, or BW12.  There has been discussion about a possible repeal or delays of the BW12 bill for several months.  However, this discussion seems to have gained more steam as homeowners and other people with structures located within the Special Flood Hazard Area are starting to receive their new flood insurance premiums.  More information from ASFPM about some of the efforts that are being made to consider or include other options in any bill that may be brought to the floor in the US House of Representatives. 

For anyone who is not familiar with the BW12 bill, the insurance reform act had several goals including changes to flood mapping, flood grants and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for an additional five years.  However, the changes that BW12 is best known for are changes to the flood insurance aspect of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Many of the flood insurance changes were designed to make the flood insurance fund more stable by reducing the fund's current deficit to the US Treasury, as well as beginning to create extra savings to help the fund to be able to withstand large scale disaster declarations like Hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Sandy.  Another aspect of the flood insurance reforms was to phase in actuarial rates for flood insurance policies which resulted in some groups of people losing the subsidy that they may have for their policy or losing any subsidy when a new policy was written.  Past posts by Ned include some information about how BW12 would impact flood insurance policies within the State of Vermont.  FEMA's website also has quite a bit of information that goes into much fuller detail about these flood insurance changes.

Many people have recognized that the original bill had issues in implementation and execution of the stated goals and objectives, specifically that the phase in of higher rates happened at a relatively fast rate, that some home or other building owners may go right from a subsidized rate directly to a full actuarial rate overnight and while many policy holders may not want to pay the higher premiums for many reasons, there was a definite contingent of people who would not have an actual ability to pay for the higher rates. 

Despite the myriad of issues with the implementation of BW12, the reasons for the passage of BW12 still remains - trying to have the National Flood Insurance Program be able to be fiscally solvent and support itself by the premiums that are paid into the program and to keep general taxpayers for funding flood recovery efforts.  A third very compelling reason for BW12 focused on having people in a flood hazard area recognize and pay for the true cost and risk of living in a hazard area, especially as we have been seeing more frequent and intense flood events and sea level rise starting to impact properties that may have been less vulnerable in the past.  The idea was that if a person living or working in a hazard area had to pay the actuarial flood insurance rate for living in this risky zone, then more structure owners would undertake mitigation efforts to help reduce their yearly premiums.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) released a Policy Paper in October of 2013 that included 9 recommendations of how BW12 could be altered to improve implementation but cautioned against repeal.  This was in order to help keep moving the NFIP towards fiscal solvency as well as continue to focus on the growing demand for mitigating homes and other infrastructure that is located within the FEMA-mapped Special Flood Hazard Area. Many of the 9 ASFPM recommendations that had been made focused on continuing to promote and encourage meaningful mitigation of flood prone homes in a variety of ways.  This included:
  • finding more ways to fund mitigation projects and existing hazard mitigation grant programs;
  • exploring ways to better incentivize mitigation efforts through tax incentives or long-term flood insurance policy benefits;
  • recognizing partial mitigation efforts by homeowners; and
  • making loans more available to home and other building owners who may be looking for ways to mitigate their structure from future floods. 
At this time, it looks like it is uncertain how such a BW12 reform/delay bill will fair in the US House of Representatives, but we will surely hear more of this debate in the near future. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CRS Webinar

There is an upcoming webinar that FEMA has scheduled about the Community Rating System (CRS) Program.   The webinar is intended to be an introduction to the CRS program.  The objective of the Community Rating System (CRS) is to reward communities that are doing more than meeting the minimum NFIP requirements to help their citizens prevent or reduce flood losses.  If a community is enrolled in the CRS Program, almost all flood insurance policies in the community receive some level of discount on the paid premium.  Currently, all CRS communities in Vermont receive a 5% discount on flood insurance premiums, although there is the potential for a community to receive up to a 45% discount on flood insurance premiums. 
There had been a webinar proposed for January, but filled up in less than a day.  If you are interested in participating in this February webinar, I would encourage you to sign up soon, as the last one filled up so quickly and their webinar software only allows for 100 participants at a time.  We will post any information about additional webinars, too.

CRS Webinar Series: Introduction to CRS
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
10:00 am, Pacific Standard Time (1:00 pm Eastern)
Session Number: 654 589 020
To register for this training session
Go to and register.

The contractor is working hard to get the rest of the CRS Webinar Series scheduled. They will all be listed at very soon (some are already there). Click the “Upcoming” tab, and check back often for updates.

Friday, January 3, 2014

(Virtually) Free Trainings at FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI)

I wanted to let everyone know about upcoming trainings at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (EMI) located in Emmitsburg, MD.  If you are a local government employee, the courses at EMI are offered at virtually no charge.  The attendee would be given a travel stipend to cover the cost of travel, there is no charge for the class or your room for the week, and EMI provides a shuttle that would pick you up at either the Baltimore or Washington DC airport.  The only cost to the attendee would be a weekly meal ticket that is ~ $100. These courses would be extremely helpful for any local official that works on floodplain management issues.  There are several relevant floodplain management courses that are offered there throughout the year and would be helpful. CFM credit is often available for any of the floodplain management courses offered at EMI.

Also, if you are a community that is currently participating in the CRS program, you can receive CRS credit if staff members completed certain training sessions, which includes almost all of the classes listed below (E194, E273, E278, E282, E284 or E386). 

You can download an application at the EMI website or find out more information about EMI by reading through their Welcome PacketAlso, feel free to contact Rebecca ( with any questions.

CRS course (E278)
April 7-10
June 23-26
August 11-14

Managing Development through the NFIP (E273)
March 17-20
May 5-8
June 16-19
September 15-18

Advanced Floodplain Management Concepts (E194)
August 25-28

Advanced FPM Concepts II (E282)
April 14-17

Advanced Concepts III (E284)
July 21-24

Residential Coastal Construction (E386)
August 18-21

Retrofitting Floodprone Buildings (E279)
April 14-17

Benefit Cost Analysis: Entry Level (E276)
April 22-24
August 25-27