Kristen and Jason Atoigue walk through floodwaters after taking a boat to their house to retrieve their flood insurance papers and their son's hamster in Pender County, North Carolina, Sept. 21, 2018. Credit: Kristen Zeis | The Virginian-Pilot via AP

The federal flood insurance program, which is critical to home sales, will continue to run during the government shutdown, according to the Maine Association of Realtors.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which controls the National Flood Insurance Program, reversed course Friday night and said it would allow the program to operate despite the government shutdown. Instead, it will issue and renew flood insurance policies retroactive to Dec. 21 without interruption, according to Suzanne Guild, CEO of the Maine Realtors Association.

[Shutdown threatens to undercut home sale gains in Northeast]

Guild said in an email to the BDN that the FEMA administrator sent the following message to the National Association of Realtors last Friday night: “On Dec. 26, 2018, FEMA informed you that due to a lapse in annual appropriation the NFIP may not sell new insurance policies, renew existing policies, or make monetary endorsements on existing policies. Effective immediately, this guidance is rescinded and NFIP Insurers may resume the sale, renewal and monetary endorsements for flood insurance policies.”

“This new decision means thousands of home sale transactions in communities across the country can go forward without interruption, as Congress intended when it renewed the flood insurance program earlier this week,” National Association of Realtors President John Smaby said in a prepared statement. “Our research has shown that 40,000 home sales are lost every month that flood insurance is not available.”