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Welcome to the Flood Zone!

A nationally distributed resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, and educational opportunities. If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, simply click the unsubscribe link in the footer of this message.

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Jim Headshot

Message from Jim

Atlantic Hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th. Since today is December 2nd, congratulations, most of us can exhale and forget about flood risk and damage until late spring 2016 when tropical storms and hurricanes start ramping back up. This seems logical based on data collected in NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, which identifies that a large percentage of the 2,595 tropical storms or hurricanes which have occurred between 1851-2014 have been within these dates (NOAA, 2015). Perfect, let’s get ready for the holidays!

But wait, doesn’t emergency management consist of four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery? Briefly, mitigation is intended to prevent or reduce impacts, preparedness is training and exercise to acquire a state of readiness, response attempts to provide immediate actions to save lives, protect property, and meet basic needs, and recovery includes the many aspects of clean-up, housing, support, etc. Recovery is also a wonderful opportunity to evaluate what worked well, and what requires modification or more training. So mitigation and preparedness actually start in recovery (Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola, 2014)! Wow, it seems as though the first two phases have extreme value in the process of dealing with flooding, or other types of disaster. In fact, FEMA estimates that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 are saved (FEMA, 2015). So why do many people only desire to respond to a storm event, and then do their best with limited funds and resources to recover? Wouldn’t it make more sense to prepare for a flooding event than to convince yourself that it won’t happen to you? For the record, thousands of people every year can no longer make that statement.

steven cyros quote

If I had my way, I would proclaim December 1st to March 31st "Flood Education Season" in which mitigation and preparedness strategies are openly discussed, exercises are practiced, and instructions are created to aid in preventing or reducing the negative effects of a large storm. Dealing with large natural disasters should be addressed year round. According to FEMA, any cost-effective action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to life and property can be considered “Hazard Mitigation”. The phrase "cost-effective" is added to stress the importance that a mitigation strategy should save money long-term. If the cost of a mitigation project is less than the long-term costs of disaster recovery and repair for the project area, the mitigation is considered cost-effective (FEMA, 2015). The wonderful news resting within this definition is the ability for everyone to mitigate and prepare at the local level. This is our best asset in dealing with these large flooding events. Waiting for our government to perform the four phases for each of us is unwise in many ways.

Since four of the five most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history (Wilma ‘05, Andrew ‘92, Ike ‘08, Sandy ‘12, and Katrina ‘05) have occurred in the last decade, but Irene ‘11and Rita ’05 did not make the list, it is obvious that many more extremely powerful storms will become part of U.S. history, so it is important to understand that mitigation and preparedness requires each of us to accept individual responsibility. The program is overburdened with the responsibility of response and recovery for the many thousands who choose not to mitigate and prepare when able to do so.

Take notice of the research and planning you perform to go on vacation, buy a home or appliance, or even to go grocery shopping. Why would you decide not to plan when life safety or loss of your largest personal asset could be at risk? In my opinion, dealing with the effects of a problem instead of understanding and preparing for the problem will never fix the problem because it IS the problem. Response and recovery are phases intended to deal with uncontrollable uncertainty, so the more we reduce or eliminate the effects of a large storm through mitigation and preparedness, the less we need to address in response and recovery. Each of us has 181 days before the next Atlantic hurricane season. Let’s use this time wisely.

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Resources

FEMA has released a Summary of National Flood Insurance Program Changes Effective April 1, 2016

The flood insurance premium increases and other policy changes set forth by Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 and the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 are rolling into effect next year. This 12-page summary outlines the percent increases for subsidized policies for each flood zone, new rating methodologies for Preferred Risk Policies and Properties Newly Mapped into the SFHA, implementation of 25% rate increases for non-residential and business properties, and more. We understand it is a lot to take in, and will be introducing these changes in our upcoming classes, newsletters, and on our website to assist you. In the mean time, we encourage you to read through the summary and begin to think about how this may effect you or your client's properties. Read the Summary of 2016 NFIP Changes here.

Flood Insurance Affordability Paper

ASFPM Recommendations to Address the Impact of NFIP Reform BW-12
A component of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 was to study and propose solutions to the issue of affordability after the removal of subsidized insurance rates. The Association of State Floodplain Managers issued a paper with some of the proposed ideas. Read it here!

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Flood Fact:

Adding fill to the natural floodplain can cause a "rise" of floodwaters outside of the floodway fringe

fill

Make sure your floodplain fill project won't harm your neighbors. Before deciding to use fill as part of your project design, check with your community's planning, engineering, or permit office. You may be required to demonstrate that fill will cause "no rise". (New Jersey Quick Guide, 2015)

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In the News

Congress Takes Aim at Flood Insurance Program with Reform Bill

By Caitlyn Bronson, Insurance Business, November 23, 2015
In response to the controversy over whether fraudulent engineering reports were used to deny or reduce claim payout from Hurricane Sandy, a new reform bill has been introduced that would require more transparency about FEMA's claims process as well as try to close loopholes commonly used to deny coverage. Read more!

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December Flood Funny

flood-tips-cartoon

Image from disaster.com: "Flood Survival Tips: Knowing the Facts"

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