Sen. Cory Booker joined Rep. Mikie Sherrill in urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prioritize its review and revisions to the Flood Insurance Rate Map. The Congress members were interested in completing the revision in order to protect citizens of the Township of Pequannock.
The rate map is often used to define areas at high risk for flooding, and the legislators noted the current health crisis was being compounded by delays in the revision process.
“These extensive delays have created real and tangible adverse impacts on Pequannock and our constituents. In addition to the costs and resources expended by this small community to appeal these maps, the (preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps) have caused great uncertainty in the housing market and requirements for flood insurance,” the duo wrote.
pFIRM First Released in 2016 before Delays
The preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or (pFIRM), for Morris County were first issued in 2016, and then appealed by the Township of Pequannock. In 2019, Sen. Booker wrote to urge FEMA to consider scientifically relevant computer models withheld from the initial review.
The Scientific Review Panel (SRP) ruled unanimously in favor of Pequannock when FEMA finally took up the view, but since, not much progress has been made.
Additionally, the SRP lamented the lack of local involvement and outreach, saying FEMA’s initial rejection of the appeal was “disingenuous at best.”
Dropping Home Values
In the meantime, the town has been forced to contend with negative impacts on its housing market, with some reports indicating home values dropped as much as 25%.
FEMA last noted it would take 24 additional months to remap the area, delaying the adoption of a pFIRM until 2023, spurring the legislators to write the letter.
“Under any circumstances, this economic uncertainty would be difficult to bear, but during the current pandemic, the impact is magnified,” the lawmakers continued. “Getting the final pFIRM correct is clearly a matter of great economic significance to this town and its residents.”
Sherrill’s Focus on Flooding
Flooding has been a focused for Rep. Sherrill for much of her tenure as a member of Congress.
In March, she testified on flooding issues affecting North Jersey before the House’s Committee on Science, Space and Technology. She later introduced bipartisan legislation to contend with flooding issues in the U.S.
Previously, she applauded the passage of the Water Resource Development Act, which would allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work on various water resource projects across the country.