Welcome to the Flood Zone! A nationally distributed resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, and edu

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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.


Jim Nadeau, PLS, CFM, CFS, ANFI, Realtor - Speaking to the Greater Portland Board of Realtors on September 18, 2014

Message from Jim

Here in Maine, as in many states, we continue to transition from paper maps to the digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), and the largest misconception continues to pertain to the belief that flood maps depict actual flood risk. With this belief in place, an assumption can be made that graphically depicted flood lines accurately represent the extent of Mother Nature’s fury, and no further. In other words, Mother Nature can see these lines and will stop before crossing them, so if you are not in the flood zone, you have no risk of flooding. This of course makes no sense, hopefully!

Regardless of format, paper or digital, it is important to remember that a Flood Insurance Rate Map is a product which depicts perceived risk, not actual risk! The perceived risk is based on two primary factors: 1) the quality of underlying data, which can range from very accurate to very inaccurate, and 2) the modeling method used to predict how water will move in a flooding event based on many engineering factors. Even if the data was very accurate on the Effective Date of the map, external factors such as watershed changes, sea level rise, erosion, and poor planning will slowly make the maps weaker. In other words, these maps are not able to predict actual risk!

It is also important to understand that every map which exists often has a primary purpose. For example, a tax assessor’s map exists to create a tax bill, and a road map aids in determining a favorable route, but neither of these maps should be used for land divisions or planning. A "flood map" is no different! Flood maps exist as a guide for insurance agents to create insurance premiums based on perceived risk and for communities to permit development in accordance to the applicable floodplain ordinance. Personally, I would like to see the name of these maps changed to Flood Insurance Rate Guides because the word “map” creates a perception that the underlying data to create the map is always strong, and the method or data to create a map is seldom questioned. To understand the purpose of a flood map is vital for program success.

To assume the maps are accurate if you are not in the flood zone, and inaccurate if placed in the flood zone, is not practical. Unfortunately, real estate values, views, land scarcity, and an assumption the government will always be there to save the day will always wear heavy on the National Flood Insurance Program. Due to budget constraints, intense mapping of our nation is not a reasonable expectation. We all must understand these maps should be interpreted with much care and caution. In other words, MITIGATE by getting out of Mother Nature’s way, both vertically and horizontally. This will always be the best concept.


The Kirkpatrick Method is an internationally recognized standard for training evaluation.


We are very pleased to announce that our organization was recently awarded Bronze Level Certification from the Kirkpatrick Partners! This added credential puts us on track to provide more effective training as we apply tools which better evaluate and measure the impact of our educational programs. We are excited to apply our learning as we continue to offer training in land surveying and floodplain management, and prepare to achieve Silver Level Certification. "Value must be created before it can be demonstrated."(Kirkpatrick Partners)

Thank You!

We would like to say thank you to the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), the Maine State Bar Association, the Greater Portland Board of Realtors, and the Greater Bangor Association of Realtors, who invited us to present at events last month. It was a pleasure to see some familiar faces and meet new professionals in the industry.

Reducing coastal risk


The National Academy of Sciences recently released a report called "Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts". An excerpt from the preface of the report provides an excellent description of the issue of risk perception we speak so often about:

"Even though, nationally, we have dealt with significant environmental impact, loss of life, economic devastation, and social disruption from several coastal storms in the past decade, it remains difficult for most coastal residents to fully comprehend the risk of living in these areas. Therefore, it is challenging for governmental institutions to devote scarce resources to provide protection or forego revenue-generating potential by limiting development in valuable coastal areas to address risk. This behavior is exacerbated when, as a compassionate nation, we rally each time a disaster strikes and provide resources for post-disaster recovery that far exceed those we are willing to provide to manage risk."

It's an extensive report, but worth the read if you are interested in risk management history, strategy, and applications!

for rent

Insurance Corner

What about Renters?

A recent poll conducted by the Insurance Information Institute found that while 95% of homeowners have a homeowners insurance policy, only 37% of renters have renters insurance, neither of which includes flood. (See link to article below in the "In the News" section). Many renters believe they will be reimbursed by their landlord's policy for personal property damage, but that typically is not the case. Roughly 4% of all housing units (132 million according to the 2012 US Census Bureau) have flood insurance policies (FEMA, 2014). According to the American Housing Survey, in 2011, 29% of the total housing units were renter occupied. One can then probably assume that given the low percentage of renters with any coverage, and the low percentage of flood insurance policies to housing units, renters who have flood insurance coverage is an extremely low percentage.

Check out FloodSmart.gov, the official site of the NFIP, to learn more about flood insurance options for renters.


Clarification Regarding Subsidy Elimination

When transitioning a subsidized Pre-FIRM policy to a full-risk rate, insurers can use tentative rates to rate a policy for one year only. The policy must then be renewed using the information contained in an Elevation Certificate. When applying the tentative rate procedure for an elevated Pre-FIRM building with enclosure, always use “non-elevated/no-basement” building rates.

Tentative rates can be used for one year to transition subsidized Pre-FIRM Residential Condominium Building Association Policies (RCBAPs) to full-risk rates.

Use full-risk (Post-FIRM) Increased Cost of Compliance premiums and deductible factors when
applying full-risk, tentative, or provisional rates to a Pre-FIRM building.

From FEMA Memo W-13070 for Write Your Own (WYO) Principal Coordinators and the National Flood Program Servicing Agent on June 14, 2014 Program Changes.


In the News

For more information on renters and insurance, check out this article:
"Number of Renters is on the Rise - But Few of Them Have Insurance"
InsuranceNewsNet.com, September 22, 2014.

Great article on risk perception:
"To Get People to Buy Insurance, Change How You Talk About Risk"
Howard Kunreuther, Robert Meyer, and Erwann Michel-Kerjan, Businessweek, September 22, 2014.


Learning Events

Upcoming Events:

We will be presenting our Maine Real Estate Commission-Approved course, "Understanding Land Surveying and Flood Zones" on:
November 5, 2014 - Mountains Council of Realtors, Membership Meeting and Education Course, Farmington, ME
November 13, 2014 - Kennebec Valley Board of Realtors, Maine Association of Realtors Office in Augusta, ME

nmfpw logo broomfield

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) is offering a National Mitigation FloodProofing Workshop, October 27-30, 2014, in Broomfield, Colorado.

Post-Disaster Mitigation, Floodproofing and Watershed Restoration: Investing in Resiliency will teach tools and techniques that floodplain managers, emergency managers, property owners, and others can use to reduce flood risk. Activities include plenary sessions, mini-workshops and concurrent track sessions with detailed presentations, exhibitions, and field tours.

Visit ASFPM's website to learn more about this great event!


October Flood Funny

flood canoe

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