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How Pa. can make flood insurance more affordable

A task force formed after last year’s fatal flash flood issues its final report


The torrential storm that killed seven people, including two young children, in Upper Makefield and flooded homes and yards in Lower Makefield a year ago has not been forgotten.

In the aftermath of the July 15, 2023 deluge, government officials set up a task force to analyze how to make communities safer. And they want homeowners to learn how to protect their property and obtain flood insurance before the need arises.

A 16-page Flood Insurance Premium Assistance Task Force Final Report was issued this month by Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys.

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-10, and state Rep. Perry Warren, D-31, both of Bucks County, served on the task force.

Santarsiero said legislators on both sides of the political aisle recognize that flooding is “not a partisan issue” and want to implement task force recommendations.

Flooding in Bucks County is not a new problem, nor only one affecting towns along the Delaware River. Homeowners in the vicinity of the Neshaminy Creek also have dealt with the issue in recent years, Santarsiero said.

In last summer’s storm, the Maplevale neighborhood in Lower Makefield, which is not designated as a flood zone, was hit hard by water runoff coming down a hilltop, crossing Taylorsville Road and entering residents’ homes on its way to the Delaware Canal. Two homes even had large portions of their backyards collapse into the canal.

Resident Lisa Domenic, of Meadow Drive, has since purchased flood insurance from her private insurer after having to replace flooring and drywall in her home. She bought the insurance to help protect her against another flood.

“Buyer beware is the lesson I learned,” she said. “Just because you’re not in a floodplain doesn’t mean you shouldn’t insure your property.”

The task force report points to multiple ways to address flood concerns. It recommends that more communities sign up for Community Rating System goals. The CRS is a Federal Emergency Management Agency program that provides for discounted National Flood Insurance Program policies in towns that follow CRS guidelines for floodplain management. The state wants to have a coordinator to help municipalities sign up for the program.

The task force also would like to see more grants offered for communities “to assist in floodplain management activities.”

Both Lower Makefield and Upper Makefield are looking into ways to improve stormwater management in their townships.

Realty firms are also included in efforts to ensure that new home buyers are better informed about whether properties have ever flooded.

The report also addresses concerns for individual homeowners about tax credits that could be available both for flood mitigation and the purchase of flood insurance, Santarsiero said.

The report specifically recommends legislation to “allow Pennsylvania consumers to deduct flood insurance premiums from their state income tax.”

Domenic said that she’s glad she now has flood insurance even though Maplevale isn’t in a mapped flood zone.

And she is thankful that in her neighborhood, the flooding last summer only caused property damage.

“People didn’t lose their lives,” she said.

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