Math alone should prompt repeal of flood reform act

The state House Democratic Policy Committee and the Senate Banking Committee heard a lot of emotional pleas last week when they held hearings in Harrisburg regarding the impact of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

But beyond the emotions, the numbers alone should have left an obvious solution at the hearings, one co-chaired by Rep. Rick Mirabito, Williamsport Democrat, and the other chaired by state Sen. E. Eugene Yaw, a Loyalsock Township Republican.

At one hearing, a property owner talked about an annual flood insurance premium jumping from $756 to more than $11,000. At the other hearing, a property owner spoke of a premium increasing from $592 to $9,096 on a $60,000 property.

These aren’t sharp increases. These are punitive increases that regular people simply can’t afford.

The result will be abandoned and foreclosed homes and a stagnant real estate market, which will in turn create increased tax pressures on the rest of the homeowning public in any municipality with homes in the flood plain.

The intent of the reform act was to solve financial woes of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The consequences intended or not cannot stand.

We appreciate that the state hearings were held and would implore our state Legislature to engineer whatever temporary remedy it can to help homeowners.

But this is not just a problem for Pennsylvania, with its thousands of homes in flood plain areas predominately because of the state’s creeks, streams and rivers. It’s a problem in Florida, with a fully-exposed coastline, and up and down the entire East Coast. And lots of other parts of the country.

The problem started on the federal level and applies to much of the country, so it must be solved on the federal level.

Delays in the full impact of the law and fancy financial measures to numb the blow, however well-intentioned, aren’t enough.

The law needs to be repealed. Now.

Simple math means that everyone will lose unless the law is repealed.

We have seen our federal government bail out the car industry. If there is money for that, there is money to take care of FEMA and absolve regular people from bearing that burden.

We read regularly of millions of dollars in obvious waste within the federal budget. Take a small percentage of the annual wasteful spending list and allocate it to FEMA.

For those not paying these exorbitant flood insurance rate increases, there will be no acceptable excuses.

So it follows that there are no acceptable excuses for not taking action now to repeal this obvious travesty of federal legislation.

-Williamsport Sun-Gazette