Ros-Lehtinen expresses frustration with FEMA’s threats to Monroe Country over NFIP

Dec 9, 2011 Issues: Housing

December 7, 2011

The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland security
500 C Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I write to express my indignation over FEMA Region IV Mitigation Director Brad Loar’s letter dated December 2, 2011 to Monroe County Mayor David Rice that threatens probation and eventual suspension of Monroe County from the National Flood Insurance Program. Over 17,000 of my Keys constituents who are NFIP policyholders are being held hostage by FEMA as it attempts to coerce the implementation and enforcement of measures in its Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs). I would also ask that, prior to the January 11, 2012 deadline set by FEMA for implementation of these RPAs, you meet with Mayor Rice and the County Commission to further discuss these issues.

It is hard to believe that FEMA’s solution to the lawsuit against itself and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – a lawsuit that twice specifically excluded Monroe County from participation – is to demand that Monroe County revise its Flood Damage Prevention Ordinances to implement Endangered Species Act protective measures and take on all liability for denying floodplain development permits to its residents. I would like to remind you that the County already has some of the strongest Endangered Species Act protections in the country through its Rate of Growth Ordinances (ROGO) and Tier systems. Nevertheless, it was FEMA that was sued, not the County and certainly not Keys residents, and as such FEMA should be held accountable under the Court’s Settlement Agreement.

Your history in South Florida assures me that you understand the Florida Keys and their vulnerability to hurricanes and other extreme weather events that can induce flooding. I am counting on your support as FEMA Administrator to ensure that our citizens are eligible for NFIP participation. As you will recall, Florida Keys residents are all too familiar with NFIP probation and suspension threats by FEMA. This tactic has been deployed against the County in years past and residents are tired of, and should not be subject to, this disingenuous form of intimidation.

This is a matter of grave concern that will have tangible consequences for my community. Florida Keys residents deserve better. I urge you to end FEMA’s consistent threat of suspension from the National Flood Insurance Program to Monroe County, and respectfully request that you, or an appropriate member of your staff, meet with Mayor Rice and the County Commission to discuss these issues prior to the January 11, 2012 deadline FEMA has set for Monroe County to agree to adopt the list of RPAs you have provided.


Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Member of Congress