Changes will stabilize flood insurance program

THE NATIONAL Flood Insurance Program cannot continue as it is. The agency owes the federal government almost $18 billion, and taxpayers can’t afford to keep footing the bill to fund it.

But without the program, most homeowners would have no way to insure against flood damage.

Fortunately, members of the U.S. House of Representatives demonstrated that they understand both the need for the program to continue, as well as the need for it to become solvent. The House voted last week to extend the NFIP for five more years — but with changes that will make it more financially stable.

This is a step in the right direction. Now it will be up to the Senate to consider the bill, which would extend the program until Sept. 30, 2016.

Meanwhile, Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi, introduced two useful amendments that were approved.

One would require coastal representation on the group charged with revising flood maps. The second would allow claimants to view the documents officials used to determine whether flooding caused their property damage.

In the Senate, Alabama’s Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, and Mississippi’s Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, have been outspoken on the need for reforming the NFIP and have suggested sound ideas.

Sen. Wicker’s office said last week that the House-passed bill “contains several important changes” but that there is “still a significant way to go.”

Mobile Press-Register