Merkley Joins Effort to Ease the Financial Burden of Flood Protection for Rural Communities

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley joined Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester in an effort to make it easier and more affordable for rural communities to comply with flood protection requirements. 

“Many Oregon communities are already struggling with high unemployment and a lackluster economy and can’t afford the high cost private companies charge for recertification,” said Merkley.  “To make matters worse, if the communities can’t foot the bill, the financial burden then shifts to local families and businesses.  We can prevent this from happening by making it more affordable for communities to protect themselves from the threat of floods.”

Many small to mid-sized communities cannot afford to fund the environmental and engineering studies required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for recertification.  If the dikes and levees are not recertified, communities across Oregon would be in danger of having significantly larger portions of their land defined as a “flood plain.”  This would result in many business owners and families being required to purchase costly flood protection insurance.
The Rural Community Flood Protection Act will provide the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to carry out levee recertification studies and directs the Corps to cap the non-federal cost share requirement of the engineering studies they provide.  This will greatly reduce the cost of recertification for rural communities and help ensure that families and businesses won’t be required to purchase expensive private flood protection insurance.

“Our rural communities should never have to break the bank just to undergo a recertification process,” said Merkley.  “I am proud to join Senators Baucus and Tester and finally make the process of recertification less cumbersome and more affordable for our local communities.”