Dire Warning Issued Over National Flood Insurance Program

Monday, October 9th 2017, 8:06 am
By: News On 6

As Hurricane Nate -- the fourth storm to batter the U.S. this hurricane season -- hit the Gulf Coast this past weekend, the Office of Management and Budget issued a dire warning about the National Flood Insurance Program.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will have "fully exhausted its financial resources," including its $30 billion borrowing authority, before the end of October. After that, it will be "unable to pay claims," according to a letter that OMB Director Mick Mulvaney sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The NFIP was already $24 billion in debt even before this year's monster storms ravaged the U.S. First, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana, saturating Houston with 60 inches of rain. Then Hurricane Irma scored a bulls eye on Florida, tracking right up the peninsula with 135-mile per-hour winds. Hurricane Maria virtually decimated the island of Puerto Rico, destroying the power grid and major roadways. Damage reports there are still coming in.

"The recent hurricanes have inflicted projected losses of $16 billion," said Mulvaney. Now, Nate will dump at least an additional three to six inches of rain on the already soaked Gulf region.

Congress has repeatedly been slow to act on flood insurance -- already delaying once this year -- and in the past it has let the program lapse, which ultimately stopped construction in coastal areas where flood insurance is required to obtain a mortgage.

But now political pressure from the thousands, perhaps millions, who've been the victims of storm surge and floods will force the divided federal legislature to finally act, possibly even before the December 8 deadline now set by President Trump. 

The White House has already asked Congress for $29 billion in disaster aid, which would include $16 billion in debt "forgiveness" for the NFIP to keep it afloat a while longer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.