Panel criticizes FEMA's handling of flood insurance program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's handling of the National Flood Insurance Program drew sharp criticism Tuesday from Senate Banking Committee members, who said FEMA has yet to implement provisions of a program overhaul enacted nearly 16 months ago.

"Regrettably, I have had experience dealing with FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program over the past two years, and given these interactions, I am very deeply concerned about FEMA's ability to handle not only flood insurance claims, but the other needs of the people affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita," Banking ranking member Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., said during a hearing.

David Maurstad, FEMA's acting Mitigation Division director and federal insurance administrator, said NFIP claims resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita could exceed $22 billion, which would surpass the total amount of NFIP claims paid out since the program was created 37 years ago.

"We not only have a legal obligation to honor our commitments, but we have a moral obligation to provide the coverage we've promised to provide," Maurstad said.

But Sarbanes said many Maryland residents are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Isabel -- which struck in 2003 -- and some have sued FEMA over their flood insurance settlements. "FEMA was clearly overwhelmed then, let alone now," Sarbanes said.

Sarbanes and Banking Economic Policy Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bunning, R-Ky., said FEMA has not implemented several provisions enacted as part of last year's NFIP reauthorization in response to problems that emerged after Isabel. One of those provisions required FEMA to establish, by Dec. 30, 2004, a process for flood insurance policyholders to appeal claims decisions.

Maurstad said FEMA is working "diligently" to implement a formal appeals process, but did not specify when it would be finished.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.