The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Praise for Rep. Berry's amendment to protect property owners from FEMA

Posted on September 29, 2007 at 12:52 AM

“Caucus Praises Congressman Berry and Bipartisan Group in House for Passing Berry Amendment to Protect Property Owners From FEMA”

September 28, 2007 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Mississippi Delta Grassroots Caucus commends the great leadership of Congressman Marion Berry in passing an amendment designed to protect property owners from FEMA during consideration of H.R. 3121, the Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act of 2007. The bipartisan amendment was co-sponsored by Representatives Mike Ross (D-AR), Phil Hare (D-IL), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), and Jerry Costello (D-IL).

The Berry amendment requires FEMA to distinguish certified levees that provide protection from special flood hazards from levees that have not been certified by the federal government on federal flood insurance rate maps. By differentiating the protections the levees provide, property owners will be more informed about the actual protection that levees provide and allowed to make their own decision in regards to purchasing flood insurance.

We commend the following statement from Congressman Berry: “FEMA’s current policy is to publish an arbitrary and unscientific blanket warning of flood risks on their new flood maps, apparently to try to sell insurance for properties where it is not required and where there may never be claims” said Berry . “This common-sense, bipartisan amendment requires FEMA to give complete information about the safety of levees, which helps property owners make informed decisions when considering the risk of flooding to their homes and belongings. I am pleased that the House has recognized the need to reverse FEMA’s policy and to reduce uncertainty regarding the need for flood insurance.”

The amendment passed the House by voice vote. The final bill passed the House by a vote of 263 to 146.

Many of the Delta Grassroots Caucus partners have been concerned about this issue, and they hailed the House’s action yesterday as a major victory for the Delta. Rob Rash, CEO of the St. Francis Levee District, said it was a “tremendous victory, and Congressman Berry did an outstanding job of working in a bipartisan way to get this done.”

Many Delta Grassroots Caucus partners had been very concerned that FEMA’s “one size fits all” approach had the potential to impose totally unnecessary flood insurance costs all over the Delta region. We praise Congressman Berry, Congressman Mike Ross (D-AR), Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Rep. Jerry Costello of southern Illinois for working to get this amendment passed–they have all worked well with the Delta Grassroots Caucus over the years and we greatly appreciate all they do for our region.

Harvey Joe Sanner, an executive committee member of the Delta Grassroots Caucus who is very active in the White River Coalition and the Arkansas Waterways Association, said “U.S. Congressman Marion Berry’s amendment that requires FEMA to alter their levee certification process is a great victory for those who live and/or work in river basin areas.”

Sanner said that “Many of the better paying jobs in Arkansas are dependent on waterborne transportation. Ports, harbors and other infrastructure investments have been threatened by FEMA’s proposal to redraw flood maps. Thank goodness Congressman Berry and many of his colleagues recognized a FEMA-created disaster about to happen and took steps to protect us from it.

Sanner emphasized that “FEMA had turned a deaf and some say and arrogant ear to pleas from the country to change the way they were doing business regarding flood maps, I’m thankful that we have members of congress who have ways to open those ears. Congressman Berry and his co-sponsors should be commended for responding to the citizens who were being adversely affected by FEMA’s very narrow and rigid demands.”

Please urge all the Senators to follow suit and pass the Berry amendment as well. We have been in touch with Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and we know they are on top of this issue as well, so we hope for a good result in the Senate. Thanks very much–Lee Powell (202) 360-6347