US Rep. Gonzalez introduces bill to improve flood mapping

Vicente Gonzalez (Courtesy: Congressman Vicente Gonzalez/Facebook)

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez, whose district includes Cameron County, and Alex Mooney of West Virginia introduced H.R. 2568, the Improvement of Mapping, Addresses, Geography, Elevation and Structures Act of 2023, a bipartisan bill that would include property level detail in flood maps, allowing individuals as well as governments to know with certainty their risk and proactively prepare for natural disasters.

The IMAGES Act will provide accurate mapping standards within the National Flood Insurance Program, which is regulated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“South Texas is no stranger to hurricanes, storms and flooding, making need for flood mapping reform more pressing than ever,” Gonzalez stated. “As hurricane season ramps up, it is imperative that we pass legislation like the IMAGES Act to equip our coastal communities and those historically impacted by flooding, the information to invest in long-term flood prevention. Complete and accurate flood maps are fundamental to protecting residential and commercial property in South Texas and many other at-risk areas across the country.”

“The IMAGES Act will provide critical flood risks assessment, which is vitally important to the protection of the public through flood mapping reform accuracies and strengthening the United States Geological Survey National Streamflow Information Program. Real-time mapping data feeds between Federal Emergency Management Agency and USGS, combined with census data, can provide first responders information for life saving activities during flood emergencies,” said Davey Edwards, 2023 president- elect of the National Society of Professional Surveyors, Director of Surveying for Baseline DCCM, a Houston-based surveying and mapping company, and professor of surveying at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.

Complete and accurate flood maps are fundamental to protecting residential and commercial property in South Texas and many other at-risk areas across the country.

“The National Society of Professional Surveyors highly commends Representatives Vicente Gonzalez and Alex Mooney for their leadership on the mapping reforms included in the Act,” he said.

“The provisions of the IMAGES Act will improve the accuracy and accessibility of critical federal datasets that inform flood-hazard mitigation policies. Businesses, private homeowners, governmental planners, and first responders will all benefit from the enhanced data collection and inter-agency coordination that this legislation will enable. The National Society of Professional Surveyors endorses passage of the IMAGES Act as an important development of the nation’s technical resources and NSPS gratefully recognizes Congressmen Alex Mooney and Vicente Gonzalez for their leadership on this pressing issue,” said Kevin Brockett, West Virginia’s director for the National Society of Professional Surveyors.

“The mapping reforms in the IMAGES Act recognize professional services and technology applications that will improve the quality, accuracy, and utility of FEMA flood insurance rate maps. The initiatives Representatives Gonzalez and Mooney provided in this legislation will provide a positive return on investment, save tax dollars, and improve the program for the benefit of taxpayers and flood insurance ratepayers,” said John Palatiello, founder of U.S. GEO.

Under the IMAGES Act, the NFIP will continue to reform to create a data set that includes rate maps containing address information and allows for structure and zoning codes to align with flood insurance processing and emergency responses.