Rodanthe house collapse on May 28. Photo by Brad Hanson for the Island Free Press


Congressman Greg Murphy, R-N.C., was joined this week by another East Coast congressional leader in introducing legislation that would authorize federal flood insurance payouts for structures on the brink of collapse from chronic erosion.

Rodanthe home on Tuesday morning, May 28, during initial clean-up efforts. CHNS photo.

Murphy, who represents North Carolina’s Third District that currently includes Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties, and Rep. Shellie Pingree, D-Maine, rolled out the Prevent Environmental Hazards Act, which aims to take a proactive approach in preventing structures threatened by persistent erosion or unusual flooding from tumbling down.

Also joining the bill as a cosponsor is Rep. Don Davis, D-N.C., of the First District, which will include Currituck starting with the 2024 election.

“Homeowners should not be forced to wait for their home to cause an environmental hazard before the National Flood Insurance Program is implemented,” Murphy said in a release.

“As many in our coastal communities understand, ocean currents and weather systems are unpredictable. As an example, beach erosion in Rodanthe, NC has destroyed six properties in the last four years, causing massive environmental and personal hazards before the homeowners were able to receive National Flood Insurance compensation. Proactive planning will better serve eligible beneficiaries, improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars, and protect the surrounding environment. This effort gives homeowners more options to protect their livelihoods and expands forward-thinking approaches to the many coastal challenges we face. Additionally, it prevents environmental hazards along our pristine coastlines before they occur.”

Structural damage caused by shoreline erosion are not covered under standard homeowners’ insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program covers flood damage only. “

An unoccupied house in Rodanthe collapses in May 2022. Photo: National Park Service

This delay causes public health, safety, and environmental issues from debris and pollutants, leading to hazardous cleanups,” according to a release from Murphy’s office. “Existing mitigation programs to address threatened homes are slow and inaccessible to homeowners.”

The proposed legislation authorizes flood insurance payouts to owners of structures condemned because of chronic erosion or unusual flooding and allows advance payouts for demolition or relocation for up to 40% of the home’s value or $250,000.

Its sponsors said it would reduce confusion in attributing damage to specific floods and encourage proactive demolition or relocation to prevent collapses and reduce cleanup costs.

Payouts would be limited to 40% to owners who neglect to act before a collapse. “Coastal communities in Maine know all too well how devastating the impacts of the climate crisis can be,” Pingree said in a statement.

“Over the last year, Maine has been hit with multiple major storms and climate emergencies are continuing to increase across the country. Our Prevent Environmental Hazards Act gives homeowners the ability to tackle coastal erosion before losing their homes by authorizing the National Flood Insurance Program to give payouts for condemned structures and allowing advanced demolition or relocation funding. Giving our coastal communities more funding options is crucial to mitigating future climate change impacts and I am happy to be a part of this bipartisan effort.”

Cosponsors of the legislation include Reps. David Rouzer, R-N.C., Jen Kiggans, R-Va., Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y.

The post Bipartisan bill in Congress would allow flood insurance payments ahead of house collapses appeared first on Island Free Press.

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