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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.


In this Issue of Welcome to the Flood Zone:

Message from Jim
Announcement: 3-credit continuing education class for real estate licensees!
Resources: Local, Regional, and National
Flood Q&A: Why should I get a Preferred Risk Policy if flood insurance isn't required?
In the News: "How Will Climate Change Impact Future Floods and Flood Insurance?" and "Updates to the Standards and Guidance for FEMA's Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) Program Have Been Delayed Until February 2018"
Real Estate Corner: "Home Sellers Should Disclose Flood History and Risk to Buyers"

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Message from Jim

Did you know that the Egyptian calendar was divided into three seasons: Akhet, the inundation or flooding of the Nile; Peret, the growing season; and Shemu, the harvest season (Ducksters, 2017)? It almost makes too much sense - plan our existence around events which we cannot, or should not, alter.

Moving many hundreds of years forward, W. J. McGee stated in his 1891 article, “The Floodplain of Rivers” that “as population has increased, men have not only failed to devise means for suppressing or escaping this evil (flood), but have with singular short-sightedness, rushed into its chosen paths”.

Though the National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968, the process of attempting to address flood waters has always existed in both history and myth. U.S. government involvement dates back into the early years of our country as discussions for a national road system, funded navigational improvements, and the regulation of commerce developed (ASFPM, 2000).

Using the following two facts as bookends, 1) the Central Valley flood in California in 1861-1862 is known as the storm that caused California to go bankrupt. If this event occurred today, the magnitude of this storm due to the increase of infrastructure and development would have resulted in an estimated amount of $725 billion in damage (Brinklow, 2017), and 2) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that between 1970 and 2010, a population increase of 39% (34.8 million people) has occurred in the United States Shoreline County population, it is not a stretch to accept that our flood problems will continue.

Though higher regulation at the state and community levels definitely decreases flood risk and damage, it is our lack of self-awareness and self-assessment inhibiting our growth and progress in flood. In other words, it is our individual choices and behaviors which are required to re-shape the flood program. Heck, the ancient Egyptians understood this concept.

In the book Eyes Wide Open, author Isaac Lidsky made many wonderful points on how losing his eyesight has made him a more compassionate and understanding person. This was accomplished by not being inhibited with vision to create or support inappropriate perceptions, fears, and biases. In other words, he became a much better listener. “Your life is not happening to you. You are creating it. Tell yourself that others control your choices and you are choosing not to choose” (Lidsky, 2017). This book delivers a similar message as the The Ostrich Paradox, which discusses our inability to overcome six core biases as they relate to risk.

What does this all mean for flood? Having a strategy for the future is not just recommended, but required. In 2005, the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC) showed that each $1 spent on mitigation saves an average of $4 (FEMA, 2017). The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear of the unknown (Lovecraft, 1925). Education and mitigation is the best weapon to defend against flood. Individual accountability, not just discussing the facts or causes, needs to be the backbone of flood mitigation.



Continuing Education Course for Real Estate Licensees - 3 Credit Hours

The Real Estate Learning Group is offering our "Understanding Land Surveying & Flood Zones" course at Husson University in Westbrook, November 16th, 2017, 9:00 AM - noon. This course is approved by the Director of the Maine Real Estate Commission for 3 credit hours. There is no fee to attend this class, courtesy of the Women's Council of Realtors, Bangor Savings, and Red Door Title!

To register, please sign up through The Real Estate Learning Group's website.



Maine Sea Grant


Maine Property Owners' Guide to Erosion, Flooding & Other Coastal Hazards

Maine Sea Grant compiled a great list of resources intended to help property owners understand and prepare for the risks involved in coastal living, highlighting Maine's unique coastal communities such as those on beaches and dunes, rocky cliffs and bluffs, and coastal wetlands.

Check it out!

NACCS Study Area for web


USACE North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study Report

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed a report detailing the results of a two-year study to address coastal storm and flood risk to vulnerable populations, property, ecosystems, and infrastructure affected by Hurricane Sandy in the United States' North Atlantic region.

Check it out!



How to Map Open Space for Community Rating System Credit

The Digital Coast, managed by NOAA's Office for Coastal Management, offers self-guided training on how to map open space in your community, to apply for Community Rating System credit. The CRS is an incentive program that encourages community floodplain management activities which exceed the minimum NFIP requirements by offering lower insurance premiums.

Check out the training program!


Flood Q&A

Q: I obtained an Elevation Certificate for my property, submitted an application to FEMA for a Letter Of Map Amendment (LOMA) and I received a Removal Document which I gave to my lender. Flood insurance is no longer required because the house is now considered low flood risk! So why is it still being recommended that I purchase a Preferred Risk Policy for flood insurance?

A: Just because your property is now considered low risk, does not mean there is no risk! You were initially mapped into a high-risk flood zone due to the proximity of your property to a flood source. Flood maps can be flawed and gathering elevation data can be helpful for proper risk rating, but the fact still remains, you live near the water and changes in weather patterns and nearby development can cause unpredictable situations that increase flood risk.

A Preferred Risk Policy is not a requirement for those outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area, but a good option to consider if you want to protect your assets. It offers the same coverage as a Standard Flood Policy, at a significantly lower rate (think $100s vs $1,000s).

Click here to download a PDF of the Preferred Risk Policy section of the 2016 NFIP Flood Insurance Manual.


In the News

How Will Climate Change Impact Future Floods and Flood Insurance?

By: Paul Solman, PBS NewsHour, September 21, 2017
Paul Solman, PBS NewsHour economics correspondent, interviews Radley Horton, a professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, on the impacts of climate change and how we can adapt. Horton states, "We absolutely do need to strengthen infrastructure, whether it's elevating buildings, green infrastructure that can capture some of this excess water. We need those strategies. But you start to wonder, at what point have things changed too much for us to be able to adapt?"

Read more!

Updates to the Standards and Guidance for FEMA's Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) Program Have Been Delayed Until February 2018

The Risk MAP guidelines and standards define the specific implementation of the statutory and regulatory requirements for the National Flood Insurance Program. These also outline the performance of Flood Risk Projects, processing of Letters of Map Change (LOMCs) and related Risk MAP activities. These guidelines and standards are updated on an annual basis, and were originally set to be released this November. Because of the series of significant disasters over the past two months, FEMA is delaying the finalization and release until February 2018. This will allow FEMA to continue this work, while recognizing that staff time and resources are focused on the ongoing response and recovery operations.

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Home Sellers Should Disclose Flood History and Risk to Buyers

By Laura Lightbody, The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 17, 2017
It's not surprising that there's been push-back from real estate professionals about full disclosure of flood risk, in part due to the lack of education on the subject and the confidence to discuss it, but also the potentially negative impact it could have on property value. But as with other components of seller disclosure, this is intended to protect the buyer and help them make more informed decisions. Different states handle flood disclosure in various ways. Some believe it should be a national standard. What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts!

"A single, national standard requiring sellers to disclose a property’s flood history makes sense. After all, the government mandates flood insurance for properties with a federally backed mortgage located in high-risk areas called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). And research reveals that consumers who bid on a property without knowing its flood zone status fail to properly account for the costs and risks associated with the purchase."

Read more!


November Surveying Funny

kitty surveyor
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