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. This newsletter has been proudly featured by the Association of State Floodplain Managers, the National Society of Professional Surveyors, and the Maine and New Hampshire Floodplain Management Programs. Please feel free to share with your friends and colleagues!

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In this Issue of Welcome to the Flood Zone:

Message from Jim
Maine NFIP Corner: "Flood Safety Awareness Week"
In the News: "US Flood Risk is About to Explode — But Not for the Reasons You Think", "York County Town With Most Rapid Sea Level Rise in Maine Prepares for Future Flooding" and "Sea Level Rise Lecture with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust"
Resources: "2022 Interagency Sea Level Rise Technical Report", "Advancing Climate Resiliency Through Digital Flood Management" and "QUICK GUIDE for Handling Additions to Buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas"
Climate Corner: "Here Are All the Positive Environmental Stories From 2022 So Far"
Real Estate Corner: "Fannie Mae Urges New Flood Disclosures for Homebuyers" and "FEMA Risk Rating 2.0 NAR Myth Buster"

Banner Image: Image from "River Watchers Throughout the Midwest Already Wary About 2020 Spring Flooding". Photo was taken on June 1, 2019 in West Alton, Missouri. (Scott Olson/Getty Images).


Message from Jim

Each month following the delivery of our newsletter, it is not uncommon for us to receive feedback from our national audience, and this past month was no different. Though we do receive compliments, more importantly, we receive added knowledge, corrections, or additional insight that may have been overlooked in our efforts.

In a follow-up to last month’s message which introduced many to the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a “megathrust” fault line capable of generating a much larger earthquake and tsunami to the Pacific Northwest than the nearby San Andreas Fault line to Coastal California, a friend and follower, who is a CFM and a floodplain engineer in Washington State, mentioned a very large component of actual flood risk which is seldom mentioned, but can cause extreme devastation, is subsidence.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) defines land subsidence as a gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface due to the removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials. The principal causes include aquifer-system compaction associated with groundwater withdrawals, drainage of organic soils, underground mining, and the natural compaction or collapse of soils such as with sinkholes or thawing permafrost. Though subsidence is a global problem, 45 states in this country are directly affected by this process (USGS, 2022).

As our friend pointed out, though a localized tsunami in Puget Sound would cause much harm and damage, the anticipated subsidence of seven feet in Pierce County would be devastating. Coastal homes built near the water are ill-prepared when sea-level rise is combined with the impacts of subsidence. In coastal areas impacted by subsidence, a clear argument could be made that it is more dangerous than actual sea level rise.

Understanding your flood risk in the area in which you reside that is, or can be, impacted by subsidence is very important. Large tropical storms and extreme precipitation events always make the headlines as they have the potential to cause much havoc in our lives, but there are many other contributing events that make flood risk real. Subsidence is on the list as a large contributor that can impact life safety, loss or decreased value of assets, or loss of employment.

This USGS photograph depicts an extreme subsidence scenario, showing the change in ground elevation from 1925 to 1977 in San Joaquin Valley, California, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation. Over-pumping, resulting in groundwater level declines and associated aquifer-system compaction, has resulted in a change of ground elevation in excess of 25 feet. Subsidence should never be overlooked!


Maine NFIP Corner

Sue Baker, CFM, State NFIP Coordinator

Flood Safety Awareness Week
March 14th - March 18th, 2022

Maine and New Hampshire are joining forces to promote flood safety awareness. Be on the lookout for tips posted throughout the week on state emergency management social media accounts.

Maine Emergency Management Agency:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaineEMA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaineEMA

New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NH.HSEM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nh_hsem (@NH_HSEM)
Instagram: NH_HSEM
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUHWcQMkzczX2jCvPiddOqw


In the News

US Flood Risk is About to Explode — But Not for the Reasons You Think

By: Jake Bittle, Grist, February 4, 2022

A new study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change projects that the number of people in the U.S. who are exposed to flooding will almost double over the next 30 years — but not for the reasons you might think. Most new risk will come not from climate change but from population growth in areas that are already vulnerable to flooding.

When it comes to forestalling future population growth, though, the policy solutions are much trickier. The federal government doesn’t have direct authority over local zoning codes, which means it’s up to local towns and cities to choose whether they permit development in flood-prone areas. From an economic perspective, most municipalities have strong incentives to allow this kind of development: More houses means more people, which means more jobs, which means more revenue from sales taxes and property taxes.

Click here to read the full article.

York County Town With Most Rapid Sea Level Rise in Maine Prepares for Future Flooding

By: Phil Hirschkorn, ABC WMTW News 8, February 23, 2022

To catch a glimpse of the future in Wells, a southern Maine beach town whose population quadruples in the summer, check out high tide on a clear winter's day — Atlantic Ocean waves typically splash over the sea wall along Webhannet Road.

Click here to read the full article.

Sea Level Rise Lecture with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust

Sea level rise is a reality that will test Maine’s coastal communities and economies. The Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) will host Island Institute Marine Scientist Dr. Susie Arnold for a virtual lecture on sea level rise and its current and projected impacts on the Maine coast.

The virtual lecture will take place on Thursday, March 3 at 6 p.m. and will provide insights into the science of sea level rise as well as the actions being taken by coastal communities to reduce its effects.

Participants are welcomed and encouraged to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the lecture.

Registration is free and required in order to receive the Zoom link for the presentation. The Zoom link will be sent out to registrants upon registration.

Click here to learn more and register for the event.




2022 Interagency Sea Level Rise Technical Report

The Sea Level Rise Technical Report provides the most up-to-date sea level rise projections available for all U.S. states and territories; decision-makers will look to it for information.

This multi-agency effort, representing the first update since 2017, offers projections out to the year 2150 and information to help communities assess potential changes in average tide heights and height-specific threshold frequencies as they strive to adapt to sea level rise.

Click here to learn more and to view the full report.


Advancing Climate Resiliency Through Digital Flood Management

By: Jason Caldwell, John Wood Group, PLC, February 2, 2022

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the ability to visualise multiple data sources and flood flow details such as velocity and intensity, multiple storm event elevations, historical storm elevations, flood mitigation scenarios, and high-water mark locations onsite is a game changer. Communicating flood risk through traditional two-dimensional (2D) maps does not resonate with stakeholders as deeply as photos depicting flood events after they have caused severe damage.

Wood is using augmented reality to help communities and landowners visualise flood scenarios and develop an immersive picture of severe weather impacts before they occur. Part of Wood’s digital sustainability toolkit, FloodVue™ is changing flood risk communication and showcasing the benefits of adaptation.

Click here to learn more about FloodVue™.


QUICK GUIDE for Handling Additions to Buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas

This FEMA Quick Guide identifies floodplain management requirements when additions to buildings in special flood hazard areas are proposed to be constructed. It is based on FEMA P-758, FEMA’s new Substantial Improvement / Substantial Damage Desk Reference.

Click here to download a PDF of the Quick Guide (12 pages)

Download the full Substantial Improvement / Substantial Damage Desk Reference (174 pages)


Climate Corner

Here Are All the Positive Environmental Stories From 2022 So Far

By: Marthe de Ferrer, Euronews.Green, Updated: February 2, 2022

Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread - as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot - and often feel them ourselves.

So, for 2022, as part of our ongoing effort to tackle eco-anxiety (both that of our readers and our own), we are going to be keeping track of all the positive environmental stories from this year.

Some of the stories included are: "China opens its first vertical forest city to residents", "Students have designed a 'floating house' to save people from floods", and "Making conferences virtual or hybrid could significantly mitigate climate change".

Click here to catch up on some good news!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Fannie Mae Urges New Flood Disclosures for Homebuyers

By: Zack Colman, Politico, January 27, 2022

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is urging FEMA to set federal standards for how home sellers disclose flood risks to potential buyers.

The mortgage giant said potentially relevant disclosure could cover “a property’s current flood zone designation, past property flooding events, and current flood insurance coverage on the home.”

Click here to read the full article.

FEMA Risk Rating 2.0 NAR Myth Buster

National Association of REALTORS®, October 25, 2021

On October 1, 2021, FEMA began implementing a new flood insurance pricing methodology called Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action. REALTORS® have been calling for these changes since Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act in 2012.

Changes won’t take effect for existing policies until April 1, 2022, but many misconceptions about the new rating system are already circulating. This document provides the facts.

Click here to download a PDF of the document.


March Flood Funny

spring slush
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