Hurricane season opened June 1, just as it does every year. And it will be with us through Nov. 30, just as it is every year. The Senate left for its Memorial Day recess, as did the House, on May 31. They do this every year, too. So we could conclude all is right with the world, or at least it's on schedule. All is not right, though. What do hurricane season and the congressional calendar have in common? More than you think, at least this year.
The National Flood Insurance Program expired at 12:01 on June 1 after Congress left town for the Memorial Day recess without acting on legislation that would extend the program. While the House passed H.R. 4213, which contains an NFIP authorization through Dec. 31, 2010, senators donned their sunglasses, flip-flops and deck shoes, and then went on holiday. Meanwhile, millions of would-be home and business owners cannot close on their loans without this coverage, stalling their moves and possibly delaying employment for those waiting to go to work for these businesses. If the economic and housing market recoveries weren't fragile enough, they were made more so by this thoughtless inaction.
NFIP provides a level of stability and protection for homeowners and businesses against flood events, which are both unpredictable and costly. Beyond compare in recent times was the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Flood coverage helped millions of homeowners and business owners rebuild their lives and resume their operations. While hurricane damage provides either the best or worst example, the NFIP is intended to cover all homes and businesses located in flood zones. Katrina was certainly bad, but so were the Illinois-Missouri floods of the 1990s, the periodic North Dakota floods and, the most recent example, this past week's disaster in Arkansas. People with coverage in those areas were taken care of. Meanwhile, new policies cannot be issued nor can coverage be increased or renewed for current policy holders. This, of course, puts lenders at risk, too, until Congress acts.?As reckless as it was to leave town without addressing this, the problem goes beyond just this reauthorization. Our federal legislators are in the habit of serially reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program for short periods. When NFIP expired June 1, it was the third time this year. Since September 2008 seven short-term extensions have been granted. Not only is this irresponsible on the part of our elected officials, it's inefficient and ineffective.
Alex, Bonnie and Colin are this year's first three hurricane names, followed by Danielle, Earl, Fiona and Gaston. Supposing the season is truly as horrific as 2005, then Katrina becomes Karl. Go back to storm three. Let's name it Congress, rather than Colin for the unconscionable manner in which our government is handling the federal flood insurance program. Though this may be unfair, naming the third storm Congress fails to recognize the House's reauthorization efforts prior to the recess. Naming this year's "S" storm Senator, rather than Shary correctly places the blame on the legislators who are toying with the lives of millions of Americans, the stability of financial institutions, not to mention a fragile economy and housing market.
Write your senators today. Tell them inaction as well as short-term reauthorization is unacceptable. The National Flood Insurance Program should be extended for at least five years. Their argument against such a measure is the cost of doing so. Do they really believe we won't wind up paying anyway, especially if this year's storms are as bad as they are predicted to be??
Prime Alliance Solutions Inc.