WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Recalling the devastating flooding experienced by many Virginia communities in 1995 and again in 1996, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is holding a special conference in Roanoke, VA, on Thursday, April 8, to emphasize the value of federally backed flood insurance for property owners in the area and to discuss recent changes in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that will better protect communities.
"Virginia at Risk" is the theme of the one-day conference intended for insurance agents, lenders, realtors, state and local officials, business owners and all other interested citizens. This public forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Patrick Henry Hotel, 617 S. Jefferson St. in Roanoke, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Attendance is free of charge.
"Virginians know that the mountains, valleys and beaches that attract so many visitors with their beauty have also served as the background for numerous flooding events," said Jo Ann Howard, administrator of the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA), the part of FEMA that manages the NFIP. "Over the years, property owners throughout the commonwealth have received over $118 million in flood insurance claims, which are paid regardless of whether or not a major disaster declaration is issued."
Howard said the flood insurance forum in Roanoke will give interested citizens and business and community leaders the opportunity to meet with experts to discuss how they can protect their investments from flood loss.
The conference agenda features Rita Calvan, director of FEMA's regional office in Philadelphia, PA, and Dennis Poehler from the commonwealth of Virginia's Bureau of Insurance.
The morning session will include an interactive panel discussion with participants that include Douglas Moseley, floodplain program planner of Virginia's Department of Conservation and Recreation; Brenda Adams, a certified insurance counselor with Charles Lunsford Sons & Associates; Diana Miller-Irwin of First Union National Bank; Greg Reed, city engineer for the city of Roanoke; and two local flood victims, Ray and Rachel Lee.
The afternoon portion from 1 p.m to 4 p.m. will consist of separate seminars covering topics of particular interest to insurance agents, lenders and community officials.
The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations to reduce future flood losses. Currently, over 4.1 million flood insurance policies are in force in nearly 19,000 participating communities nationwide, representing more than $485 billion worth of coverage. The NFIP is a self-supporting program; claims and operating expenses are paid from policyholder premiums, not taxpayer dollars. It is estimated that flood insurance saves taxpayers approximately $800 milllion in disaster relief costs annually.