The federal government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has recently been hit hard by the consequences of continued billions of dollars in losses in connection with the National Flood Insurance Program – now $24 Billion in the hole. Floods along the Red River, Mississippi River, the Ohio River drainage, coastal storms and hurricanes with an occasional west coast gale have been merciless on homeowners and other property owners in low lying areas, but also precipitating huge payouts by FEMA and the federal National Flood Insurance Program.
FEMA and the Congress have reportedly both basically agreed, the bleeding of the federal treasury has to stop. What the two entities have figured out is that there was a very good reason that the private flood insurance corporations got out of the business in the late 1960’s: There’s no profit in it. In fact, quite severely the opposite.
So under a new law called the Biggerts-Waters Bill, it requires that the National Flood Insurance Program charge high enough premiums to at least beak even at the end of winter and spring flood seasons. However, those premiums are just now coming out and in a very direct way, could impoverish counties and cities across America. For many counties, like Lincoln, a great deal of property tax revenues come from waterfront properties – usually the most valuable. If those properties come with premiums of 10, 20, 30 or even $40,000 a year insurance premiums, which seems likely under Biggerts-Waters, those properties will immediately take a deep hit in their dollar value for tax purposes. The damage to city and county budgets nationwide will be considerable with deep cuts to everything including police, fire, schools, roads, water and sewer service – across the board.
Lincoln County Commissioners said last week that although we may be one country, only a few parts of it are racking up the huge costs from flooding – along the East Coast, the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and along the Mississippi River. It’s in these areas whose local governments have allowed residential and commercial development to occur in low lying areas. Commissioners say, in effect, why should the West pay for the permissive development sins of the East and Gulf Coast States?
To underscore the issue, the commissioners have sent a strong letter to Congress and to Oregon’s Congressional Delegation informing them that unrealistic increases in National Flood Insurance Premiums are completely unworkable and to go back to the drawing board.
Here’s the letter and a map of areas in Lincoln County that are set to be hammered by the higher rates.