Quigley, King Lead Bipartisan Push to Address Urban Flooding

Sept. 25, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 18, 2014 — Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan Urban Flooding Awareness Act to address increased flooding from extreme weather and heavy rainfall events in urban communities. The bill creates an unambiguous and inclusive definition of urban flooding and requires a first of its kind study to comprehensively analyze both individual and societal costs associated with urban flooding across the country.

“Stronger, more destructive storms are pummeling urban areas at an alarming rate, threatening the quality of our drinking water, eroding our natural resources and creating massive amounts of property damage to individuals and business,” said Rep. Quigley. “By setting a clear definition of urban flooding and thoroughly studying the issue, we can better understand the risks and work together to develop thoughtful solutions that protect our local communities.”

“After natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy, it’s imperative we do more to understand how flooding can be predicted and prevented,” said Rep. King.

A clear definition of urban flooding will allow experts to understand the scope of the problem, develop solutions and consider more than just coastal and river flooding when designing flood maps. It requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate a study on the costs and prevalence of urban flooding, the effectiveness of green and other infrastructure solutions, floodplain evaluation, and strategies to expand flood insurance to protect property owners.

Currently, urban communities are often ineligible for federal flood benefits, which enable homeowners, businesses and renters to purchase federally-backed flood insurance to help offset the costs of flood-related property damage. Just a few inches of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage for both home and small business owners. Wet basements from flooding events are cited among the top reasons for not purchasing a home and industry experts estimate flooding can lower property values by 10-25 percent. Further, nearly 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen following a disaster according to FEMA.

“As rain events become more frequent and intense, urban flooding is becoming increasingly chronic and costly,” said Kathryn Tholin, CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), a Chicago-based sustainability nonprofit that led efforts to pass similar legislation in Illinois. “Our research shows that urban flooding isn’t restricted to designated floodplains. It’s an equal opportunity problem that can destroy homes, disrupt businesses, and devastate city budgets. The Urban Flooding Awareness Act will help American communities identify innovative solutions that can protect our investments and our environment.”

With portions of Illinois’ 5th Congressional District devastated by flooding three times in the past six years, Rep. Quigley has been an outspoken advocate for the completion of flood control measures such as the McCook and Thornton Reservoirs. He has also actively called for revising the process of awarding federal aid to disaster-afflicted communities.

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