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house Bill H.R. 3955

Do Cities Need Flexibility from FEMA When Rebuilding After Floods?

Argument in favor

FEMA’s restrictions on rebuilding in flooded areas don’t currently take into account efforts to mitigate the risk of future flooding. This bill fixes that to help communities after floods damage property once the flooding risk has been reduced.

operaman's Opinion
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08/22/2016
FEMA has no business demanding changes in building standards. However, they may recommend to City Planners new ideas for future structures changes. Leave it up to the Feds to apply pressure to states and cities too expand their power and influence. But like any corruption, offer some cash and watch hungry bureaucrats crawl to the Federal public trough.
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Taylor's Opinion
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08/22/2016
Yes, and get rid of FEMA while you're at it. And the EPA. And the FDA. And the BLM. So on and so forth.
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Kathy's Opinion
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08/22/2016
Absolutely. Keep federal government out of state decisions whenever possible. However, when asking for federal funding, there are always conditions to be met. Such as "we're not giving you more $$ in the future if you don't make changes to avoid this happening again". Such as rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina. Federal funding had been made available to fix the levees which local government diverted to other projects. They should be held accountable.
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Argument opposed

There’s a reason that FEMA restricts how land that has been flooded can be used—it may flood again and endanger people or property. There’s no need for FEMA to listen to appeals from state and local governments because they got it right.

Jstawski's Opinion
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08/22/2016
I am on the fence about this one. As a Certified Floodplain Manager, I understand the restrictions set by the NFIP. It is necessary to restrict development on properties that are prone to 100yr flooding because federal funds pay for the restoration and, in some cases, mitigation. Allowing local government and private owners to build on these properties should be monitored carefully to ensure the property meets guidelines to remove the habitable spaces from the base flood elevation. I am against much intervention by the federal government and feel the NFIP should be privatized and remove restrictions like the one this proposes. However, as long as flood insurance is managed and sold by the federal government, and my tax dollars are being used to support FEMA, no restrictions should be lifted until a licensed CFM can provide an elevation certification.
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Gary's Opinion
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08/20/2016
As long as the US government is providing the insurance, it gets to dictate use. What is it with the South and Midwest? Tornadoes rip up trailer parks, so they build more trailer parks. Rivers flood homes so they build the same homes in the same areas. I mean, stilts, anyone? Bricks? Low profile building? I guess as long as it gets rebuilt, it's all good, right?
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Ron's Opinion
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08/22/2016
Federal $$$ should only be available for bailout once. Communities that rebuild repeatedly in disaster areas should not have unlimited access to federal money.
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What is House Bill H.R. 3955?

This bill would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to release local governments from land use restrictions that were imposed because of a flooding hazard if they meet certain conditions. In effect, it would make it easier for local communities to redevelop properties that had been damaged by a flood as long as steps have been taken to reduce the risk of future flooding.

The land use restrictions imposed by FEMA could be lifted if:

  • The local government requests that the state release it from the restrictions over five years after the land became subject to restrictions;

  • FEMA hasn’t designated the land as a special flood hazard area as of the request date;

  • The local government certifies that it didn’t coerce the original property owner when acquiring the land;

  • The state approves the request and recommends that FEMA approve it;

  • The local government repays FEMA for hazard mitigation assistance it received for the land or substitutes a different parcel that is covered by the same restrictions;

  • FEMA issues its final approval for the request.

Impact

Communities where property has been flooded and its use restricted by FEMA; local and state governments; and FEMA.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3955

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) introduced this bill in response to restrictions faced by towns like Waverly, IA and others in rebuilding on land that had been flooded but is no longer at risk of flooding:

“After hearing directly from towns like Waverly that are dealing with unnecessary land use restrictions put on them by the federal government, I decided to introduce this act to give communities the flexibility to make decisions about how to best use their land. After the flood risk has been properly mitigated, it’s just common sense that communities be allowed to put that land to good use in a way that benefits the residents of the town.”



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: By David Fine - This image is from the FEMA Photo Library., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10335268)

AKA

Small Municipality Flood Relief Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to authorize the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release a local government from certain land restrictions imposed under the hazard mitigation program, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
      Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management
    IntroducedNovember 5th, 2015
    FEMA has no business demanding changes in building standards. However, they may recommend to City Planners new ideas for future structures changes. Leave it up to the Feds to apply pressure to states and cities too expand their power and influence. But like any corruption, offer some cash and watch hungry bureaucrats crawl to the Federal public trough.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    I am on the fence about this one. As a Certified Floodplain Manager, I understand the restrictions set by the NFIP. It is necessary to restrict development on properties that are prone to 100yr flooding because federal funds pay for the restoration and, in some cases, mitigation. Allowing local government and private owners to build on these properties should be monitored carefully to ensure the property meets guidelines to remove the habitable spaces from the base flood elevation. I am against much intervention by the federal government and feel the NFIP should be privatized and remove restrictions like the one this proposes. However, as long as flood insurance is managed and sold by the federal government, and my tax dollars are being used to support FEMA, no restrictions should be lifted until a licensed CFM can provide an elevation certification.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes, and get rid of FEMA while you're at it. And the EPA. And the FDA. And the BLM. So on and so forth.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely. Keep federal government out of state decisions whenever possible. However, when asking for federal funding, there are always conditions to be met. Such as "we're not giving you more $$ in the future if you don't make changes to avoid this happening again". Such as rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina. Federal funding had been made available to fix the levees which local government diverted to other projects. They should be held accountable.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    As long as the US government is providing the insurance, it gets to dictate use. What is it with the South and Midwest? Tornadoes rip up trailer parks, so they build more trailer parks. Rivers flood homes so they build the same homes in the same areas. I mean, stilts, anyone? Bricks? Low profile building? I guess as long as it gets rebuilt, it's all good, right?
    Like (5)
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    Share
    Federal $$$ should only be available for bailout once. Communities that rebuild repeatedly in disaster areas should not have unlimited access to federal money.
    Like (4)
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    As climate change continues to affect us in new and more intense manners, the preparations taken by any entity may prove insufficient in protecting against future catastrophic events such as flooding. In short, building in a floodplain just because a 500 year levy has been added does not gauruntee safety.
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    It should be left up to local government to rebuild not the Feds local people will know more what is needed and where than some federal bureaucrats that don't live there.
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    All of these arguments are besides the point in my opinion: if people wanna build and live in stupid places, then that's their prerogative.
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    People shouldn't be allowed to rebuild in flood areas. They should be give property out of the zone and the flood zone should go back to nature
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    This should be a no brainer.
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    States know how best to use their land than the federal government.
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    FEMA has responsibility to mitigate future disaster relief by taking certain land out of use. Changing that would benefit locals to the detriment of the rest of us (and reward some ill advised local decisions).
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    It's not governments job to tell you what you can and can't do on your land
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    My land is my land that I can do what I want with. But I have no land just government land that they let me use. Plus anyone moronic enough to live in flood plains doesn't deserve land.
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    The question should be, do localities need relief from overly powerful federal agencies like FEMA and POTUS?
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    President Ronald Reagan once said, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
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    It's their town; it's their decisions
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    Flood insurance is incredibly cheap and subsidized heavily by the government, i.e. taxpayers subsidize it. It often is essential to live in flood plains for agriculture and shipping etc, but rebuilding should be subject to best practices and shaping by the government that subsidizes payment for it.
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    FEMA should pay only 1 time. After that, they're on their own.
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