Floods are common and devastating, but we can be prepared

March 28, 2012

On behalf of FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), I'm writing in response to your March 14 opinion piece, "Warming: Storm damage ahead" to add insight about flood risk and the NFIP.

Your editorial addresses how climate change will add to the likelihood of flooding, especially in coastal areas. Floods are our nation's most common and costly natural disaster and occur in all areas of the country. Everyone should understand that we all are at some risk for flooding and that the time to protect ourselves is now.

In fact, due to the wide spread risk of flooding, many insurance companies stopped selling flood insurance as far back as the 1960s. As a result, in 1968, Congress established the NFIP to make affordable flood insurance available to the general public. Through a thriving public-private partnership with roughly 90 private sector insurance companies, today the NFIP ensures that Americans can be financially protected against devastating flood losses that most homeowner policies don't cover. Flood insurance provides residents financial protection for their single most important investment — their home or business. Today, more than 21,000 communities nationwide participate in the NFIP, resulting in more than 5.6 million NFIP policies and providing over $1.2 trillion in coverage.

The NFIP helps citizens recover more quickly from the economic impacts of flood events while providing a mechanism to reduce exposure to flooding through improved building standards and encouraging sound land-use decisions. We don't know when the next flood will occur. All residents should learn about their risks, consider the costs and consequences associated with a flood and protect themselves with flood insurance.

Edward L. Connor, Washington

The writer is deputy associate administrator for federal insurance at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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