Supports National Flood Insurance Program

RECEIVED Mon., Sept. 27, 2004

Dear Editor:
   I was shocked to read Mr. Hightower's recent lambasting ("Hightower Report," Sept. 17) of the National Flood Insurance Program. Millions/billions of dollars are paid annually in federal disaster relief to communities that have been impacted by flooding; these costs are ultimately borne by you and me, the American taxpayers. The NFIP is a way to shift the financial burden back onto the minority of people who reside in these high risk areas (commonly referred to as the "100-year floodplain," with the misconception that a flood will only happen once every 100 years (false); a more appropriate definition is a 1% probability of a flood occurring during any 12-month period). Flood insurance policies are underwritten by the federal government, not private insurance companies. This program has been active within the federal government for more than 35 years, supported by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
   Most people are unaware that basic homeowner's policies rarely (if ever) cover flood-related losses, even if you live on a hillside, far from any water bodies or regulatory floodplains. Education (including the mailers such as Mr. Hightower referred to) is a key component of making the program effective. Everybody is at some flood risk; just to varying degrees. Please visit www.fema.gov/fima/nfip.shtm for more information.
   I have spent the majority of my career trying to help people, getting communities and residents to participate in the NFIP (I have never had any ties to the insurance industry, but have worked for local governments, responding to the death and destruction that floods have brought to Central Texas), and seeing this baseless attack on the program was especially discouraging. The bottom line is that flood insurance can be a key part of reducing taxes and improving quality of life. It is not a scam!
Sincerely,
Andrew Rooke
   [Jim Hightower responds: Apparently, you misread my piece. I'm not against flood insurance, but against 1) a saturation mailing that tries to scare people who do not need the insurance into buying it, and 2) a mailing that favors one or two insurance agents over all the others.]
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