Congressmen Gonzalez & Mooney Introduce the Bipartisan IMAGES Act of 2021
WASHINGTON – Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) and Alex Mooney (WV-02) introduced H.R. 4088, the Improvement of Mapping, Addresses, Geography, Elevation and Structures (IMAGES) Act of 2021, to enhance the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which provides affordable premiums for homeowners by reforming a critical missing piece from flood maps.
The bipartisan IMAGES Act will provide accurate mapping standards within the NFIP which is regulated under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These updated flood maps will provide property level detail, so that individuals as well as governments can know with certainty their risk, which can then be utilized to proactively prepare for future natural disasters.
“After the torrential hurricane season of 2020 became the most active season in history, the need for continued flood mapping reform has become more pressing than ever.” said Congressman Gonzalez . “As the hurricane season ramps up, it is imperative that we pass legislation like the IMAGES Act, which will provide long-term flood prevention and mapping, support the NFIP and FEMA and promote national security, construction and disaster prevention funding. Complete and accurate flood maps are instrumental to protecting residential and commercial property in South Texas and many other at-risk areas across the country.”
“The IMAGES Act contains important mapping reforms that will make flood maps used for the National Flood Insurance Program more accurate. This is a needed improvement to make the program more efficient and effective,” said Congressman Mooney.
"The mapping reforms incorporated into the IMAGES Act are critical to the effectiveness of this program. The integrity and timeliness of mapping is critical for the fair and accurate assessment of flood risks, and thus the protection of the public. The National Society of Professional Surveyors highly commends Representatives Vicente Gonzalez and Alex Mooney for their leadership on the mapping reforms included in the Act," said Pat Smith, RPLS, Chairman of the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) Government Affairs Committee, Executive Vice President of SAM, LLC, a national surveying and geospatial services firm headquartered in Austin, Texas.
"The mapping reforms in the IMAGES Act recognize professional services and technology applications that will improve the quality, accuracy, and utility of FEMA flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs). The initiatives Representatives Gonzalez and Mooney provided in this legislation will provide a positive return on investment, save tax dollars, and improve the program for the benefit of taxpayers and flood insurance ratepayers," said John Palatiello, Founder of U.S. GEO.
Under the IMAGES Act, the NFIP will continue to reform 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 2021 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.
In 2019, parts of the IMAGES Act passed the House of Representatives as part of H.R. 3167, the National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019, but was blocked by the Senate.
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 high volume of property owners without proper or any flood insurance.