May 03, 2023

Wyden, Merkley Ask Feds to Help Oregon Communities with National Flood Insurance Program

Senators’ letter to FEMA seeks technical assistance for state communities, extended public comment period

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today asked federal officials to provide technical assistance to Oregon communities working through the potential local impacts to housing, ports and small businesses from a draft plan proposing changes in the state to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The senators also requested in their letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that the upcoming May 5 deadline for public comment during the scoping process on the draft plan’s environmental impact statement be extended by 30 days.

“Oregonians recently identified concerns surrounding housing, economic development, and aging infrastructure in their review of the draft plan,” Wyden and Merkley wrote FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “In light of these concerns, we request that you extend the current scoping process for an additional 30 days to allow greater opportunity for public comment on the proposed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  We also ask that you provide robust technical assistance to support our communities as they evaluate potential impacts of these changes and explore mitigation strategies.”

The senators noted that FEMA has been working for many years to update the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure environmental compliance, but only recently began the formal public engagement process for the environmental impact statement. 

“Community input is critical to the success of this effort, and we believe a longer comment period will aid in FEMA’s understanding of the socioeconomic impacts and other effects of this NFIP-Endangered Species Act integration project,” Wyden and Merkley wrote. “An extension will also allow key stakeholders in Oregon to understand the rules, learn what actions are and are not covered, explore costs associated with mitigation options, and share their informed views with FEMA.”

“For example, Oregonians have already shared with us their concerns about repairing or restoring aging port infrastructure, replacing old dwellings, pursuing much-needed housing projects, and supporting already struggling rural businesses,” they wrote. “Our communities have also stated that they require floodplain management training from FEMA to advance mitigation strategies.” 

The entire letter is here.


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