Jo Ann Howard, Administrator for the Federal Insurance Administration, wrote the following letter. It appeared in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, Austin, Texas on March 24, 2000 as an editorial opinion piece.
I read with interest your February 21 story, New Flood Plain Map Steams Stonewall Property Owners, reporting that some residents are upset that FEMA's new flood maps for Gillespie County include their property and could possibly affect resale.
The reporter said Stonewall is "as much a state of mind as a place." I grew up in a small west Texas community, so "Stonewall" is a state of mind I'm familiar with: hard work, tradition, preserving property and its value, being a good neighbor. But that state of mind also means fair play.
Don't the buyers of Stonewall properties have the right to know the property they are buying is exposed to flood risks? Don't those who provide thousands of dollars in mortgage loans have the right to make sure their borrowers protect those sizable investments with flood insurance until the loans are paid off? And don't the taxpayers--in Stonewall and across America--have the right to expect that those at risk from flooding take personal responsibility for protecting themselves with flood insurance rather than relying on Federal disaster relief?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been operating since 1968. More than 19,000 communities across the country have adopted and are enforcing NFIP building standards for new construction that have been responsible for reducing flood damages by approximately $1 billion each year.
Flood insurance gives peace of mind to those in Stonewall and elsewhere who value the ideals of personal responsibility, preservation of community, and protection of property. Let's hope the new flood maps for Gillespie County won't continue to be a source of aggravation for Stonewall residents, but rather an opportunity for them to consider the advantages of flood insurance and buy this low-cost protection.
Jo Ann Howard
Federal Insurance Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency