By Jessica Mathews /

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin testified this week about flooding on Ore Lake and the Huron River in Hamburg Township at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing

The 8th District Democrat stated that one of the issues she’s been grappling with is Michigan being hit by severe and repetitive flooding. She questioned emergency management experts on how to help protect communities that are most vulnerable against these increasingly frequent disasters. She noted in June, rains overwhelmed infrastructure, flooded basements and left cars submerged on highways across vulnerable communities.

Slotkin commented that Michigan has had its second 500-year flood within two years. In August, the Huron River reached its 4th highest recorded level –flooding some smaller communities she represents including lake communities in rural areas in Livingston County. Further Orion Township had what was deemed a 1,000-year flood in just the past month and half and everything is far from normal.

Slotkin told the Committee that in September, she visited Ore Lake in Hamburg Township see the severe flooding there firsthand and heard directly from residents who bought homes without access to its history of flood insurance claims, administered by FEMA.

Slotkin said “You can get a Carfax for a used car, but what about seeing if the home you’re about to buy has a history of flood insurance claims?

She said they described not having accurate information on the potential for flood on previous claims that were filed on flooding when they were buying the home. Under the National Flood Insurance Program, Slotkin asserted that FEMA only shares information about claims on a property when someone is the owner of the home and only when they request it – adding buyers can ask sellers to verify a claim if they think about it but there’s no requirement for disclosure.

Slotkin specifically addressed Christopher Currie, the Director of the Homeland Security and Justice Team with the Government Accounting Office. For her specific questions related to what information FEMA, flood insurance companies and contractors share, Currie indicated he would get a detailed answer on the process. He stated that the major problem with the flood insurance program is that many of the properties were not in the special hazard flood zone and that’s a problem they’re seeing across the country - rain events are causing significant flooding and places are flooding that never flooded before but they’re not seen as high risk areas so they’re not technically “in the system”.

Currie said that’s one big problem highlighted in a recently issued report about the flood mapping process - that FEMA doesn’t take into account future conditions as much as it should. He added that calling these 500 to 1,000 year floods frankly just isn’t helpful anymore because these are flooding happening every year - not 500 year floods.

A link to a video of Slotkin's remarks is provided.