Sept. 5, 2017 – Mass destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey and floodwaters in Texas and Louisiana. Severe flooding due to heavy rains in Southwest Florida. The devastating aftermath on people’s lives and livelihoods is a shocking reminder of what can happen when disaster strikes – and the critical need for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“The National Flood Insurance Program is all that stands between families and disaster – but it’s set to expire Sept. 30, 2017, if Congress doesn’t act,” says Florida Realtors® President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. “This is of critical concern for Floridians since we represent nearly 40 percent of all NFIP policies in the U.S. Florida’s Realtors are joining with colleagues across the country to urge Congress to extend the flood insurance program. If we don’t have an extraordinary response from Realtors, we will not make a strong statement to Congress. This isn’t just an issue for waterfront homes, either. Flooding can occur due to storm surge and heavy rain – we must protect Florida’s citizens.”
Of the nearly 5 million homes and businesses covered by the NFIP around the nation, about 1.8 million are in the Sunshine State, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Florida has over 20.1 million residents, and 80 percent of them live or conduct business along or near its coastline. Many other Floridians live or do business near the state’s rivers and other inland floodplains, and are also concerned about protecting their lives and property from future flooding. In fact, 97.9 percent of all Florida communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Lawmakers are back in Washington, D.C., today. Hopefully, Congress will reauthorize the NFIP before Sept. 30 to avoid a disruption in flood insurance coverage.
If the program lapses, the NFIP can’t issue new policies or even renew existing ones. The last time Congress allowed that to happen, about 40,000 home sales a month were put on hold, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Wells has been active in the NFIP reauthorization effort working with NAR and directly with lawmakers.
“This is a volatile issue for our state and Florida’s voice needs to be strong,” says Wells. “Realtors in Florida and across the country are working together with property owners to urge Congress to extend the National Flood Insurance Program as quickly as possible. Without flood insurance, our communities are unprotected and at risk, with devastating consequences to people and their lives, homes and businesses.”