U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy recently told the American Press that Hurricane Barry proves the need for the reauthorization and extension of the National Flood Insurance Program.
"Thank God the storm wasn't worse," Cassidy said. "The lack of flooding was a testament to investment and mitigation and preparation on the state level and the community level."
Cassidy, R-Louisiana, said more than five million American families — more than half of them Louisiana residents — depend upon the NFIP, which Congress must reauthorize before it expires on Sept. 30.
Cassidy said keeping the program sustainable and accountable "is an American issue."
Cassidy said he and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, have introduced bipartisan legislation — The National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act — to reauthorize and reform the program.
"Our goal is to have a program which is stronger, which is more accountable and which is more affordable," Cassidy said.
The senators' bill calls for increased funding for expanded and improved flood mapping and tweaks the payment and appeals process.
The legislation proposed would also put a cap on levels that premiums can increase from year to year at 9 percent. To pay for that, interest payments on the program's debt would be frozen and that money would be put in a savings account designated for mitigation projects.
Cassidy said the legislation puts an emphasis on supporting prevention and mitigation efforts to avoid costly damage caused by flood disasters.
"Think of the bayou," he said. "There's a story out of the Wharton School of Business that $1 spent on mitigation saves $6 in restoration costs — a stitch in time saves nine, maybe six."
Cassidy said the legislation would ensure the NFIP works for the homeowners who depend on it.
"The reforms in this bill are critical to any reauthorization effort to make the program sustainable and prevent families from being hit with drastic premium increases," he said.
With the program nearing its latest expiration date, let's see if Congress can agree to compromise on a program that will work best for all Americans.