DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 1996; Congressional Record Vol. 141, No. 126
(Extensions of Remarks - August 01, 1995)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1575]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND 
             INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 1996

                                 ______


                               speech of

                         HON. RICHARD W. POMBO

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, July 27, 1995

       The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of 
     the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2099) making 
     appropriations for the Departments of Veterans Affairs and 
     Housing and Urban Development, and for sundry independent 
     agencies, boards, commissions, corporations, and offices for 
     the fiscal year ending September 30, 1996, and for other 
     purposes:

  Mr. POMBO. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to address the section of H.R. 
2099, the fiscal year 1996 VA-HUD appropriations bill, that will 
prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] from spending 
any further taxpayer dollars for work on flood insurance rate maps 
[FIRM] for the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County, CA. I have 
worked with this appropriations subcommittee to see that language is 
included in this bill that would ensure that these inaccurate and 
deficient maps are not prematurely imposed on the Stockton metropolitan 
area. This Congress must ensure that FEMA is a partner with the city 
and county in providing accurate and complete information on the risk 
of flooding and to assist in coordinating the completion of 
improvements to the existing levee system. Such a coordinated effort 
will more rapidly restore an adequate level of flood protection and 
enhance, rather than threaten, the regional, and State's economy.
  Unlike most FEMA floodplain maps for urbanized areas, the proposed 
FIRM's for Stockton do not indicate flood depths. Such information is 
critical to determine insurance premium rates and
 building code requirements. Because FEMA did not provide this 
information during its most recent flood insurance study, the city and 
county can only estimate flood depths, thereby assuming liability for 
inaccurate estimates, in addition to its individual property owners 
incurring the costs of determining the appropriate flood depths. In 
order to minimize this cost to property owners, the city and county 
have stepped forward to fully finance the necessary flood depth study. 
This necessary study is expected to be completed in 2 years. The 
legislation we are adopting today will suspend FEMA's maps and ensuing 
process, at least for 1 year, while the study is conducted.

  FEMA's draft maps also contain significant errors. Processing has 
already been delayed by FEMA because of omissions and inclusions that 
were not part of the initial draft. The city and county have already 
hired an engineering firm to review the maps, and numerous other errors 
have been found. Despite the fact that the city and county are moving 
rapidly to review the proposed FIRM's, the 90-day appeal period allowed 
by FEMA is insufficient time considering the vast area that has been 
remapped. My provision contained in the appropriations bill is intended 
to prevent the appeal period from expiring while more accurate data is 
collected and eventually provided to FEMA.
  Mr. Speaker, FEMA has praised the city and county for the initiative 
they have exercised to respond to these maps and the potential for 
future flooding. Since being notified last November, that nearly the 
entire metropolitan area was being redesignated as a floodplain, the 
local governments have already established a joint powers authority 
[JPA], retained engineering and public finance consultants, and 
appropriated more than $2 billion. The city and county JPA plans to 
construct the needed flood protection improvements without Federal 
financial assistance in order to expedite completion of the project. 
The JPA has already established a fast-track schedule that begins 
constructions in May 1996 and expects completion before the end of 
1998. We must now ensure that FEMA's administrative actions assist 
rather than impede this effort.


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