Congressmen Gonzalez and Mooney Introduce the Bipartisan IMAGES Act of 2018 in the U.S. House of Representatives
WASHINGTON – Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and Alexander X. Mooney (WV-02) introduced H.R. 4905, the Improvement of Mapping, Addresses, Geography, Elevation, and Structures (IMAGES) Act of 2018, to urge Congress to enhance the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), regulated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The congressmen crafted the IMAGES Act to provide accuracy within the NFIP, which provides affordable premiums for homeowners by reforming a critical missing piece from last year’s devastating hurricane season – flood maps.
“I have met with numerous experts and local officials who all strongly advocate for updated flood maps to identify areas at greater risk of flooding and modernized emergency preparedness processes,” Congressman Gonzalez said. “Accurate and complete flood maps are critical to protecting residential and commercial property in South Texas and many other at-risk areas across the country. With reformed flood mapping, the NFIP and FEMA can work together towards new goals that promote national security, construction, and disaster prevention funding to be utilized not just after a natural disaster, but in preparation for them.”
After the torrential hurricane season of 2017 that affected regions in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the need for flood mapping reform has become more pressing than ever before. In Houston, after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the number of areas hit hardest by flooding outweighed the number of designated flood zones from boundaries in FEMA flood maps. This resulted in a high volume of property owners without proper or any flood insurance.
Under the IMAGES Act, the NFIP will begin to create a data set that includes rate maps containing address information, and allows for structure and zoning codes to align with flood insurance processing and emergency responses.
The bipartisan IMAGES Act of 2018 would:
- Ensure that FEMA maps comply with the National Geodetic Survey’s (NGS) National Spatial Reference System for 2022;
- Strengthen the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to provide critical flood risk mapping and assessment;
- Update real-time data feeds utilized by affected agencies;
- Require qualification based selection (QBS) contracting to be utilized for all surveying and mapping services.
The IMAGES Act of 2018 seeks to make enhancing flood and risk mapping a congressional priority. The congressmen urge their colleagues to acknowledge the need for emergency response updates and preparedness for the NFIP.