Politics & Government

House extends flood insurance program for six months

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives approved a six month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program Wednesday, and a Gulf Coast lawmaker received a promise that the House would consider adding wind protection to the program.

The flood insurance program, due to expire Sept. 30, was extended to March 31, 2010.

The House, in the last Congress, approved a plan by Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., to incorporate wind coverage in the federal program but the Senate nixed it and this year the Obama administration said it opposed the plan.

Taylor, whose district sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, asked Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, about adding wind insurance to the flood insurance program.

Frank responded: "It is certainly our intention . . . to work with the gentleman to extend that protection."

Taylor also said that flood insurance coverage should increase above $250,000 and that the bill should address a rule that enables insurers to bill the government for flood coverage even if the majority of damage in a storm comes from winds.

Frank said that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, is interesting in holding hearings on flood insurance later this year.

In a release, SmarterSafer.org, a coalition of groups that want Congress to help homeowners protect their homes against hurricanes, cheered the program's extension.

"There is no question that the National Flood Insurance Program is in critical need of reform and improvement." said David Conrad, the senior water resources specialist for the National Wildlife Federation, which is part of the group.