September 13, 2016

Senator Warren Presses FEMA About High Cost of Flood Map Appeals for Mass. Cities and Towns

At Committee Hearing, Senator Urges Action to Ensure Accuracy of Maps, Reduce Burden on Municipalities When Errors Made

Washington, DC - At a Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials about mistakes in federal flood insurance maps and the high cost of appeals shouldered by Massachusetts cities and towns.

"Over three years ago, FEMA released many flood maps that our cities and towns knew were not accurate, and those mistakes have created real problems for many Massachusetts communities," Senator Warren said. "The city of Quincy, for example, was forced to appeal its flood maps. The city was successful and it lowered or eliminated the flood risk designation for nearly 2,000 properties. But that appeal cost the city about $650,000. That's money that Quincy could have used to hire more teachers or firefighters or upgrade roads or programs for seniors, but they had to spend it on correcting FEMA's mistake. And it isn't just Quincy. Hull, and Marshfield, and Scituate, and Duxbury, and communities all around Massachusetts have had similar problems with flood maps."
Senator Warren called on FEMA to support a reimbursement policy for communities that successfully appeal flood map errors, to take further steps to ensure the accuracy of flood maps, and to improve its collaboration with local partners during the mapping process.

"The accuracy of flood maps should not be based on whether a community can scrape together the money for an independent review. Our cities and towns deserve a process that is fair and accurate," the senator said.

Video of Senator Warren's Q&A at the hearing is available here, and more information about the hearing is available here.