The purpose of this hearing was to evaluate preparedness and mitigation efforts among flood-prone communities and responsible federal agencies, by evaluating the accuracy of the FEMA flood map modernization process, its impact on states and localities, mechanisms for dispute resolution, and the impact of levee inspections and certifications on determinations of flood risk.
Since the epic failure of the federal levees in New Orleans in August 2005, additional levee failures occurred during the Midwest floods in 2008 and the historic spring floods earlier this year in Rhode Island and Tennessee.
On March 18, 2010, 16 Senators signed a letter to FEMA and the Corps of Engineers citing challenges in the ongoing flood map modernization process. Among the areas listed were: a lack of communication and outreach with local stakeholders; a lack of coordination between FEMA and USACE in answering questions about both flood mapping, flood insurance and flood control infrastructure repairs; a lack of recognition of locally funded flood control projects when determining flood zones; the affordability of flood insurance; inadequate time and resources to complete repairs to flood control structures before flood maps are finalized; and potential impacts new flood maps might have on economic development.
This hearing provided an opportunity for the subcommittee to evaluate mapping methodologies and map dispute resolution mechanisms, hear suggestions for improved outreach to local residents and stakeholders, and determine options for local governments to finance levee inspections and repairs.
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
U.S. Department of the Army
Deputy Assistant Administrator, Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration
Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Director of the Center for Research in Water Resources & the Hussein M. Alharthy Centennial Chair in Civil Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin
Policy Counsel, Association of State Floodplain Managers
Member, National Committee on Levee Safety
Chief Executive Officer & Chief Engineer
St. Francis Levee District of Arkansas
Interim Director, Louisiana State University Hurricane Center
Chairman, Independent Technical Review Committee, FEMA/USACE Louisiana Storm Surge Study