Hoeven Hosts FEMA Officials, Presses to Continue Basement Exception for Flood Insurance Rates in ND Communities

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted a working meeting in Fargo with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, Fargo city and county officials and area homebuilders, realtors and engineers to clarify rules regarding the Base Flood Elevation insurance rating method, commonly known as the basement exception, used to determine flood insurance rates. The senator pressed FEMA to continue using the current Base Flood Elevation method that determines insurance rates by evaluating the lowest proofed opening in a home rather than the lowest floor, or basement, approach.

“The Fargo community prides itself in building quality flood-proof, flood-safe homes that have continually proven effective at reducing or eliminating flood damage,” Hoeven said. “The durability of these structures spawned the commonsense basement exception, and it is important to maintain this rating method to create needed certainty for the many homeowners and builders purchasing and constructing homes in Fargo’s rapidly growing community.”

Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act in July 2012. The law calls on FEMA and other federal agencies to change certain aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Hoeven has been working directly with FEMA to ensure that the agency maintains the current Base Flood Elevation insurance rating method and keeps North Dakotans apprised of any changes to existing rules or rates. 14 North Dakota communities are currently approved for the residential basement floodproofed rating credit, as well as 40 additional communities across the country.

Hoeven, the congressional delegation and the governor wrote FEMA in June to urge the agency to continue its current policy of rating the lowest proofed opening in a home. The delegation stressed that floodproofed basements have proven effective at reducing or eliminating flood damage. Additionally, since the majority of homes in North Dakota have basements for protection from extreme weather, they stressed the negative impact a rule change would have on residents who have come to rely on the existing lowest floodproofed opening method.