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Welcome to the Flood Zone is 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.


In this Issue of Welcome to the Flood Zone:

Message from Jim
Resources: "The Costs and Benefits of Building Higher" and "Floodlist"
NFIP Terminology: Appurtenant Structure
In the News: "University of New Hampshire Researchers Put A High Price Tag on Coastal 'Nuisance Flooding'"; "Disasters Affected 8% of U.S. Population in 2017, FEMA Notes in Review of Historic Year"; "Flood Insurance Subsidies Must Include Options to Lower Risk"
Real Estate Corner: "Flood Insurance: What Your Clients Need to Know Before Closing" and "Here's How Climate Change Could Turn U.S. Real Estate Prices Upside Down"

Banner Photo: A flooded home in Spring, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, August 2017. Photo credit: David J. Phillip, Associated Press

Jim Headshot

Message from Jim

Hurrah for Houston! The Astros are baseball’s defending champions, the Rockets had the best record in basketball this season and have a wonderful opportunity to win the NBA championship, and yes, the city council approved changes to their floodplain regulations with intention of reducing flood damage. With hockey playoffs in full swing, it is tough to beat this hat trick, but like the World Series that went seven games before the Astros were crowned champions, the passing of the new regulations was not without a battle either, narrowly passing with a 9-7 vote.

One of the city council members opposing the new regulations stated the city was jumping the gun since the community was still waiting for the new flood maps. Unfortunately, this logic indicates that many of our political leaders continue to believe updated maps will solve the country’s flood problem. They do not realize large storms such as Harvey, Katrina, and Sandy cannot be accurately mapped since they comfortably reach outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). In my opinion, it is unfair to blame the flood maps as being outdated or inaccurate when these enormous storms hit land. Flood regulation reaching outside the SFHA is a worthy concept to consider moving forward.

For example, according to a City of Houston study, 84 percent of the structures in the so-called 100-year (1% annual chance) or 500-year (0.2% annual chance) floodplains that flooded during Harvey may have avoided damage if the proposed regulations had been in place. (Cardenas & Formby, 2018). Now those are the type of numbers we need to start seeing for the program to stabilize! Mitigation strategies and stronger regulation are wonderful teammates to improved maps.

The passing of new regulation points me to homeowners who believe they were not, or will not, be impacted by the requirements. I sure hope they understand a high probability of future flood damage will return to their lives if no change occurs. Houston is still not safe from flooding with the passing of the new regulations, but clearly they are trying to improve their future.

Like the Astros and Rockets trying to improve each year, the flood program continues this process as well. The harsh realities of immense storms, sea level rise, and development should not allow anyone to think updated flood maps used to evaluate risk for a federally-backed loan will right the flood program ship. Communities play a huge role in improving the flood program. Society needs to change its perception of flood risk and if it does not occur, we may all need a boat!




The Costs and Benefits of Building Higher

Building higher than the minimum standard can create cost savings in multiple ways. The more elevated structure is less likely to suffer damage from a flood. Other savings can come from the reduction in insurance premiums from having lower flood risk.

Click here to download a brochure from the Association of State Floodplain Managers!



Floodlist is an online resource which reports floods and flooding news for North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, which aims to "raise awareness of the risks of flooding and the devastation caused by the increasing number and severity of flood events...to help people understand more about floods, and what can be done to prepare, protect, stay safe and recover."

Click here to learn more!

fenced-in-yard-with-shed Thinkstock 680x402

NFIP Terminology: Appurtenant Structure

An Appurtenant Structure, also called an Accessory Structure, is one which is on the same parcel of property as a principal structure and the use of which is incidental to the use of the principal structure. Examples are detached garages, storage sheds, gazebos, picnic pavilions, boathouses, small pole barns, and similar buildings.


Image by Lisa Graichen, UNH.

In the News

UNH Researchers Put A High Price Tag On Coastal 'Nuisance Flooding'

By: Jeff Feingold, New Hampshire Business Review, April 4, 2018

"Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found that in the past 20 years roads along the East Coast have experienced a 90 percent increase in high tide-related “nuisance flooding,” often making the roads in affected communities impassable, causing delays, as well as stress, and impacting transportation of goods and services.

In their study, published in the journal Transportation Research Record, the researchers found that tidal nuisance flooding threatens over 7,500 miles of roadways along the entire East Coast, with over 400 miles of that being interstate roads. They estimate that this causes over 100 million hours of delays each year for drivers on those roads – and that number could rise to more than 3.4 billion hours by 2100."

Read more!

Disasters Affected 8% of U.S. Population in 2017, FEMA Notes in Review of Historic Year

Insurance Journal, January 3, 2018

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supported 59 major disaster declarations and 16 emergency declarations in 2017, a year during which unprecedented disasters affected more than 25 million Americans, almost eight percent of the U.S. population."

Read more!

Flood Insurance Subsidies Must Include Options to Lower Risk

By: Joel Scata, National Resource Defense Council, April 24, 2018

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently released a report describing how the federal flood insurance program could be reformed to provide low-income households affordable options for insurance coverage. Given the devastation that can be wrought by a flood, access to insurance coverage can make the difference between financial ruin and being able to rebuild. However, flood insurance does nothing to help a homeowner avoid flooding at the outset."

Read more!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Flood Insurance: What Your Clients Need to Know Before Closing

FEMA, 2016

Flooding is the Nation’s number 1 natural disaster. Yet the risk of flooding is not always top of mind among home buyers. Flood risks have changed over time, and the costs and consequences of flooding are rising. Related changes to the National Flood Insurance Program make it more important than ever to understand a building’s flood risk and flood insurance requirements. Knowing and disclosing those requirements will help you complete a sale with fewer unwelcome surprises.

Click here to download FEMA's "Real Estate Professional Fact Sheet".

Here's How Climate Change Could Turn U.S. Real Estate Prices Upside Down

By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian, September 5th, 2017. Republished in Climate Central

“In any coastal area there’s extra value in property, [but] climate change, insofar as it increases risks for those properties from any specific set of hazards — like flooding and storm surge — will decrease value.”

Miami Beach in particular has become a poster child for the effects of climate change, with some studies making grim predictions of a 5 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century and others suggesting that up to $23 billion of existing property statewide could be underwater by 2050.

Read more!


May Flood Funny

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Image by Randy Glasbergen

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