Mississippi River Senators support FEMA rule change

JACKSON, Miss. — A levee isn’t perfect, but it exists and that should count for something when deciding if a property is at risk for flooding.

That’s the position of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a new proposal that would break from past policy by accounting for even deficient levees when drawing flood zones, calculating flood insurance rates, and requiring flood insurance purchases.

The proposal was released for public comment earlier this month and touches on part of the ongoing wrangling over the federally-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program: Should people who live behind levees be forced to buy flood insurance on the assumption that dikes and floodwalls might fail?

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate suspended rules earlier this year that gave no credit for deficient levees. Senators including Mississippi Republicans Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, as well as Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor and Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, support the plan.