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
In the News: "Don't Wait For a FEMA Map to Consider the Benefits of Flood Insurance", "Senators’ Flood Insurance Measure Includes Premium Cap, Mitigation, Claims Reforms", and "Green Infrastructure to Manage More Intense Stormwater With Climate Change"
Resources: "FEMA Flood Risk Communication Videos", "U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit", and "Coastal Inundation Toolkit"
NFIP Guidance: Alteration of a Watercourse
Real Estate Corner: "Make Flood Insurance a Priority (Opinion)" and "Home Insurance Covers Damage From a Volcano or Wildfire—Not a Flood"

Banner Image: A flooded street in Nebraska. Image from "Flood Resources", University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Message from Jim

As the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) continues to move into the future, a big change tentatively set to occur next year is Risk Rating 2.0, an initiative which will allow FEMA to focus on “building a culture of preparedness” by closing the insurance gap. Risk Rating 2.0 is intended to include benefits such as: creating an individualized picture of a property’s risk; providing rates that are easier to understand by agents and policyholders; reflecting more types of flood risk in rates; using the latest actuarial practices to set risk based fees; and reducing the complexity for agents to generate a quote. As an example, one of the characteristics of Risk Rating 2.0 pertains to delivering fair rates for owners of lower-value homes as it relates to the cost to rebuild (FEMA, 2019).

A major difference in the current insurance rating methodology first developed in the 1970s (based on the 1% annual chance event), and Risk Rating 2.0, is our current ability to leverage industry best practices, modern technology, and NFIP mapping data to establish a new risk-informed rating plan. By incorporating a broader range of flood frequencies such as catastrophic models, claim history, private-sector data sets, and evolving actuarial science, we can now move away from the methods that do not adequately evaluate current conditions. While actuarially sound, the 1-percent-annual-chance-event methodology used for decades is only a single view of a flood-hazard, which has created dramatic changes in pricing that doesn’t accurately reflect the flood risk (McKay, 2019).

Obtaining a stronger and more comprehensive understanding of risk will improve decisions in, adjacent to, and distant from, a Special Flood Hazard Area. Accepting the first two phases of Emergency Management, mitigation and preparedness, as extremely important components of addressing flood risk, instead of choosing to be less pro-active and becoming dependent on the last two phases, response and recovery, is vital for program strengthening. Remove yourself from the “binary” mindset of being either “in or out” of the flood zone, as it has never been an acceptable strategy to prepare for the future. Risk Rating 2.0 will greatly improve this process.

Click here to learn more about Risk Rating 2.0.


In the News

Don't Wait For a FEMA Map to Consider the Benefits of Flood Insurance

By Brent Batten, Editorial Board, Naples Daily News, July 27, 2019

The bad news about outdated FEMA flood maps is that they can end up costing people thousands of dollars. If you’re living in a flood-prone area and don’t know it because the map is stale, you may not have flood insurance and end up paying dearly when a flood occurs. The good news is you don’t need a map, current or otherwise, to obtain flood insurance.

We just love it when we read news articles that reflect the important points we are always trying to emphasize through our own education and consultations.

Read more!

Senators’ Flood Insurance Measure Includes Premium Cap, Mitigation, Claims Reforms

Insurance Journal, July 17, 2019

Congressional leaders are still working hard on creating reforms that will make the program more sustainable, and affordable, over the long term.

"We’ve witnessed the NFIP fail our constituents in their greatest hour of need and, after countless reauthorizations that simply kick a broken can down the road, we want real reform,”said Sen. Menendez.

"With the National Flood Insurance Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2019, we can make the program more sustainable, more affordable, hold FEMA and private contractors accountable, and invest in the kind of forward-looking mitigation that reduces risk and prevents costly flooding in the first place."

Read more!

Green Infrastructure to Manage More Intense Stormwater With Climate Change

By Samantha Watters, University of Maryland, July 29, 2019

In a new case study published in the "Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management", researchers examine two distinct watersheds and demonstrate that even small decentralized stormwater management practices like rain gardens can make a big cumulative difference to the resiliency of a watershed, using predictive modeling to assess what climate change will demand of our future stormwater management systems.

Read more!

rain garden

This graphic explains how a rain garden works in a residential setting. Image from the City of Groveport, Ohio


Resources - We're All About Toolkits!

Many organizations have assembled educational toolkits to help citizens, communities, and other agencies understand and resolve important issues that we are facing today. Below is a small sampling of some of the cool resources that are out there.


FEMA Flood Risk Communication Videos

In a follow up to the Flood Risk Communication Toolkit resource we shared last month, here is a direct link to the FEMA Flood Risk Communication Video Series on YouTube. The series contains eight videos, each only a few minutes long, to help customers navigate the National Flood Insurance Program, data collection for creating flood maps, mitigation, and more!

Education is the key to understanding how we can improve our futures and be best prepared for disasters before they occur.

Check it out!


U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

This toolkit helps consumers to be more resilient and able to meet the challenges of climate change. The site explores what resilience is, and what it identifies as the 5 steps to building resiliency: 1) Explore Hazards, 2) Assess Vulnerability & Risk, 3) Investigate Options, 4) Prioritize & Plan, and 5) Take Action.

Click here to learn more!


Coastal Inundation Toolkit

Inundation events are among the more costly and deadly coastal hazards that can impact coastal communities in the U.S. This toolkit shows how data, tools, and other information within Digital Coast can help communities tackle the problem. It provides steps for identifying inundation risk and guidance for visualizing and communicating those risks to community members. Examples of what other communities are doing to address inundation impacts are also included.

Learn more!


NFIP Guidance - Alteration of a Watercourse

FEMA, 2019

Alterations are often made to the channels of rivers, stream, or drainageways, usually to improve drainage, relocate the channel, or to increase its flood carrying capacity. There are two requirements for maintaining the flood carrying capacity of an altered watercourse. The altered or relocated watercourse must have the same or greater capacity as the original watercourse. Additionally, once the alteration is made, the capacity of the altered or relocated watercourse must be maintained over time.

If a development permit application proposes a stream alteration, the local official must notify adjacent communities, the State Coordinating Agency for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and provide a copy to the FEMA Regional Office. If an adverse impact is suspected, the neighboring community will be able to voice its concerns prior to any modification. Federal and State permits will usually be required for any alteration or relocation. It is recommended that the community require the submittal and approval of a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) for large-scale proposals. This assures that FEMA will recognize the project for a map change when construction is completed.

Click here to learn more!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Make Flood Insurance a Priority (Opinion)

By Barbara Delgleize, Daily Pilot, July 23, 2019

When looking for a home, buyers consider dozens of issues, including their budget, property location, local schools and other important factors. A critical part of that process is working with a licensed real estate professional who provides mandatory disclosures that help to ensure homebuyers are given critical information related to their future home. In California, these disclosures include the hazards of lead-based paint, seismic safety and flooding.

While California requires disclosure related to flooding, that is not the case nationwide — and that is a problem for consumers, especially first-time homebuyers. Existing homeowners should occasionally check with their insurance agents to see if they are located in a flood zone, as the zones can change. But all homebuyers should be entitled to information related to potential flood risk and previous damage when purchasing their future home.

Read more!

Home Insurance Covers Damage From a Volcano or Wildfire—Not a Flood

By Jacob Passy,, Sep 24, 2018

In some cases, coverage will depend on how the damage was caused. Take a hurricane: If high winds cause roof damage that leads to significant water accumulation within the house, [homeowners] insurance will likely cover it. But if a nearby river crests because of the heavy rainfall and then causes flooding, the damage to homes will only be covered if the owners have flood insurance.

Even when insurance does cover the damage from a certain catastrophe, deductibles are still at play. Hurricane deductibles vary from policy to policy, but are often assessed as a percentage of the home’s overall value.

Read more!


August Flood Funny

august cartoon

Image by Graeme MacKay.

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