The National Flood Insurance Program: Successes and Challenges of Federal Flood Mitigation Policy

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Ben Sperl


The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the guiding force behind much of the nation’s flood mitigation activities. Set forth from the realization that the federal government cannot carry the entire financial burden of alleviating flood losses, the NFIP has attempted to balance flood relief expenditures with an income that is produced by the collection of flood insurance premiums. In this regard, a balance has been successfully achieved for most of the NFIP’s history. However, the program has recently lost this balance owing in large part to a few catastrophic flood events taking place in coastal regions, namely Hurricane Katrina, but most recently Hurricane Sandy. Although the NFIP remains a powerful tool for encouraging mitigation, the debt that has been incurred over the past decade raises serious questions regarding its sustainability. The aim of this research paper is to provide a general overview of how the NFIP operates under the administration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) while discussing its successes and highlighting some of the major obstacles that threaten the sustainability of the program.

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