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!

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
Maine NFIP Corner: "Becoming a Local Code Official in Maine"
In the News: "Texas Landlords Must Now Disclose Flood Risk Information to Renters. Housing Experts Say it Doesn’t Go Far Enough" and "Flood Insurance Outlook for 2022 & Beyond"
Resources: "Use of Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Data as Available Data", "National Weather Service Flood Products" and "NFIP Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action - Industry Transition Memorandum (ITM)"
Flood Insurance Corner: "Simple Guide for Single-Family Homes"
Climate Corner: "Climate Change in Maine" and "Climate Change Destroying Homes Across the Arctic"
Real Estate Corner: "What REALTORS Need to Know about Risk Rating 2.0"

Banner Image: A table and benches are surrounded by frozen flood water on a river bench near Hirschfeld, southern Germany. The Telegraph, 2012


Message from Jim

Last week while chatting with my oldest son who lives in Seattle, Washington, I asked him if there are any articles or discussions pertaining to the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), a “megathrust” fault line which is 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) long that stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino, California (PNSN, 2022). He has been in Seattle for four years and had not heard of this fault line so it appears that it is not a topic much discussed in the Great Northwest. This is unfortunate, since this fault line would impact an approximate area of 140,000, square miles, including the major cities of Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia in Washington, and Portland, Eugene, and Salem in Oregon. For reference, the State of California is 163,696 square miles in area. The last known “megathrust” earthquake in the Northwest was in January, 1700 (PNSN, 2022). This region is slowly moving toward another catastrophic event.

Specifically, a subduction zone is a large area where two plates of the Earth's crust meet and one is forced under the other. The plates sliding past each other cause extreme amounts of force to build up as friction restricts the movement. When the amount of force built up exceeds the friction holding it back, the plates slide past each other, causing the ground to rumble (Haas, 2015). Subduction zone earthquakes are the largest earthquakes in the world, and are the only source zones that produce earthquakes greater than a magnitude of 8.5. The CSZ has produced magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquakes in the past, and undoubtedly will again in the future (Chames, 2021).

To put earthquake magnitudes in perspective, Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park in San Francisco endured a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, causing more than $5 billion in damages and was caused by a slip along the San Andreas Fault. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake can last for five minutes or longer, and the amount of energy released is approximately 1,000 times greater than a 6.9 since each whole number magnitude increase is 33 times stronger (Mustain, 2012).

Why is this important as it relates to flood? A tsunami can be caused by landslides, lava entering into the sea, seamount collapse, or meteorite impact, but the most common cause is earthquakes. In fact, 72% of tsunamis are generated by earthquakes and a subduction zone is the main cause of major tsunami events (PTM, 2022). New tsunami hazard maps published by the Washington Geological Survey and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) show that a large earthquake on the CSZ off the Washington coast could cause a tsunami that will not only reach the Puget Sound and Hood Canal, but will leave some low-lying areas under 14 feet of water (McKeegan, 2021).

The next CSZ will be a catastrophic event since the last “megathrust" earthquake in the Great Northwest occurred over 300 years ago, but approximately 150 years before development, buildings, infrastructure, people, and businesses existed in this area. This area will suffer greatly for decades when the next CSZ earthquake occurs. Replacing the concept of “will it happen again?” with “when will it happen?” is the urgent need to make long-term planning decisions now.


Maine NFIP Corner

Sue Baker, CFM, State NFIP Coordinator

Becoming a Local Code Official in Maine

In 1988, the Legislature was concerned that many small towns did not have code officers and many more did not have the training and knowledge to effectively administer state and local codes and land use regulations. The Legislature decided that, if state goals were to be achieved, there was a need to not only train, but to test and certify code officers for specific competencies. It established, as part of the Growth Management Act, a state-administered program to train and certify code officers. Today, the purpose of the program remains to build and strengthen local capabilities to administer and enforce land use and building ordinances.

A Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) is defined under 30-A M.R.S. § 4451 as a person employed by a municipality to enforce all enabling state laws and local ordinances in the following areas: shoreland zoning, land use regulation, internal plumbing, subsurface waste water disposal, and building standards. CEOs must be certified in each area for which they have responsibility within 12 months of their initial appointment date or of the date they assume responsibility for a given area. The Maine Code Enforcement Training and Certification Program provides the basic courses needed for certification. The statute also requires code officers to maintain their certification and be recertified every six years.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a local Code Enforcement Officer and/or a Local Plumbing Inspector in Maine, please visit the State Code Enforcement & Certification Program website.


In the News

Texas Landlords Must Now Disclose Flood Risk Information to Renters. Housing Experts Say it Doesn’t Go Far Enough

By: Jen Rice, Houston Public Media, January 10, 2022

Starting this month, Texas renters will see something new before signing a lease: For the first time, landlords are required to give prospective tenants some information about a property’s flood risk.

The new law applies to all rental properties, regardless of whether they’re located in a mapped floodplain.

But some housing experts are concerned the law might not help renters quite as much it seems, that it provides weak enforcement mechanisms and that it doesn’t address hurdles renters face in taking landlords to court for lease violations.

Click here to read the article.

Flood Insurance Outlook for 2022 & Beyond

By: Craig Poulton, PropertyCasualty360, December 20, 2021

As Risk Rating 2.0 unfolds in its initial months, insurance professionals are sharing their experiences. The author of this opinion piece highlights that while Risk Rating 2.0 is "a noble effort at equity in flood insurance rates" there are still a number of important issues that will not be resolved, and describes what agents and brokers can do to help their clients during these uncertain times.

Click here to read the article.




Use of Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Data as Available Data

Floodplain Management Bulletin 1-98 provides guidance on the use of FEMA draft or preliminary Flood Insurance Study data as "available data" for regulating floodplain development. If a community's Flood Insurance Rate Map lacks a Base Flood Elevation in a particular area, they must "obtain, review and reasonably utilize any base flood elevation and floodway data available from a Federal, State, or other source" (44 Code of Federal Regulations 60.3(b)(4)).

Data obtained are to be used by communities as criteria for requiring that new construction and substantial improvements have their lowest floors elevated to or above the BFE (non-residential structures can also be floodproofed to or above the BFE) and for prohibiting any encroachments in a floodway that would result in any increase in flood levels during occurrence of the base flood discharge. The data obtained should be used as long as they reasonably reflect flooding conditions expected during the base flood, are not known to be scientifically or technically incorrect, and represent the best data available.

Click here to view a PDF of FEMA Floodplain Management Bulletin 1-98.


Image of the forecast operations floor at the NWS Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center. (NWS)

National Weather Service Flood Products

Ever wonder what the difference between a Flood Watch, Flood Advisory, and Flood Warning are? The National Weather Service issues many hydrology related products. Some are to warn you of potential hazards; others are information statements to keep you up to date on changing weather and river situations.

Click here to learn more about each product and what they might mean for the public in terms of actions and awareness.


NFIP Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action - Industry Transition Memorandum (ITM)

This memorandum, intended for Write Your Own (WYO) companies, National Flood Insurance Program Direct Servicing Agent (NFIP Direct), and flood insurance vendors, provides information on how to transition existing policyholders from the legacy pricing methodology to the new pricing methodology for policies with effective dates between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.

The information provided is also helpful for consultants outside of the insurance industry who would like to understand more about this process.

Click here to view a PDF of the Memo.


Flood Insurance Corner


Simple Guide for Single-Family Homes

This guide is to assist with completing the Flood Insurance Application Form for single-family homes. For additional information, see the Flood Insurance Manual (FIM), Section 3: How to Write. Note: For coverage information, see the Standard Flood Insurance Policy Dwelling Form.

It provides information on coverage limits and deductibles, foundation type, mitigation discounts, first floor height determination, building characteristics, and other considerations.

Click here to download a PDF of the guide.


Climate Corner

Climate Change in Maine

From increasing land and ocean temperatures, to rising sea levels, more frequent severe storms, increased environmental damage, and public health maladies, Maine scientists are cataloging the significant effects of rising greenhouse gases and climate change on our state.

Learn more from the Maine Climate Council website.


Permafrost thaw in Kivalina, Alaska, is threatening villages and homes. (Getty Images)

Climate Change Destroying Homes Across the Arctic

By: Georgina Rannard, BBC News, January 11, 2022

Cracked homes, buckled roads and ruptured pipelines are likely to become common in and near the Arctic as warming temperatures cause frozen ground to thaw, new findings say.

Five million people live on Arctic permafrost including in Russia, North America and Scandinavia.

Climate change is causing the Arctic to warm two-to-four times faster than the rest of the planet.

"The land changes right before us," one Alaska resident told BBC News.

Scientists studying the Arctic say that 70% of infrastructure and 30-50% of critical infrastructure is at high risk of damage by 2050, with projected cost of tens of billions of dollars.

Click here to read the full article.

for sale

Real Estate Corner

What REALTORS Need to Know about Risk Rating 2.0

By: Austin Perez, RisMedia, December 13, 2021

On Oct. 1, 2021, FEMA began implementing a new flood insurance pricing methodology called Risk Rating 2.0. The rate changes affect new flood insurance policies but will not apply to existing policies until April 1, 2022. It is already clear that Risk Rating 2.0 is producing National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) rates that more accurately reflect each home’s specific flood risk, but some owners of higher value properties have expressed concern.

Click here to learn more!


February Flood Funny

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company