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SCAOR supports need for federal flood insurance

November 10, 2017

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor in your Oct. 24 edition titled, "It's time to revise Federal Flood Insurance program." Flooding is a real threat to American property owners across our nation, including those with beach homes located along the coast of Delaware. It must be understood that the threat is as real to those who live along the banks of the Ohio River as it is to those who own beach homes in Delaware.

Preservation of the American Dream for families of all income levels in all areas of our country is a mandate of our culture. Here is a little background on flooding safeguards put in place and why. After Superstorm Sandy, the RAND Corporation found that most homeowners living in higher flood-risk areas earned less than $100,000 a year. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people fled the flood zone and took shelter in the Superdome, most of whom were not leaving behind "multi-million-dollar homes."

Middle-class homeowners throughout the U.S. are required to keep flood insurance coverage on any property in a designated FEMA flood zone that is financed through a government-backed mortgage. Here in Delaware, every county has areas that lie within the FEMA flood plain where homeowners with a mortgage are required to have flood insurance coverage. It's also important to note that the National Flood Insurance Program does not promote commercial or residential development in areas of the uniquely sensitive environments that serve as habitats for coastal critters and provide natural buffers from the ravages of storms.

Elected leaders from Delaware have historically worked hard to preserve our coastline and prohibit development in areas prone to flooding. In 1982, Delaware Congressman Thomas B. Evans Jr. co-authored the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which included a set of maps depicting the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System, where federal flood insurance is unavailable for new or significantly improved structures. This legislation protects the coastline and coastal wetlands from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico.

The CBRA was strengthened by Gov. Russ Peterson's Coastal Zone Act, which protects a wide swath of shoreline and wetlands from the northeast tip of Delaware down to the border between Fenwick Island and Ocean City, Md. While we are all frustrated in the aftermath of recent hurricanes that ravaged the United States, we must not let that frustration override the need for families throughout our nation to have safe, affordable housing with some protections to sustain quality of life. The National Flood Insurance Program protects many who cannot afford private flood insurance, and it deserves our support.

Brigit Taylor
president
Sussex County Association of Realtors

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