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: "How Federal Flood Policy Is, and Isn’t, Addressing Climate Change Today" and "Canada Tries a Forceful Message for Flood Victims: Live Someplace Else"
Resources: "Standard Flood Insurance Policy - Dwelling Form" and "USGS Scientists Document Hurricane Dorian’s Impacts"
Real Estate Corner: "Texas Home Sellers Have To Disclose More Flood Risk Information Now. But Will It Help Buyers?"
NFIP Guidance: "October 1, 2019 Program Changes in Effect!" and "Free Educational Workshop in Boston! November 5-6, 2019"
History Corner: 100 years ago, the First Mail Flight in Maine

Banner Image: This image is a tribute to the 28 wild horses who perished during Hurricane Dorian, off the coast of North Carolina. Image from iStock and featured in "28 Wild Horses Killed in Hurricane Dorian 'Mini Tsunami' Off North Carolina Coast"


Message from Jim

In previous messages, I separated flood risk into two categories: perceived risk based on FEMA’s flood maps, used for mortgage lending, insurance, and regulation purposes, and actual risk, which is the physical extent of flood waters during a flooding event. For any flooding event, these types of risk can be very similar, but also very different. More specifically, if they were one in the same, the 1% annual chance flood would technically not extend beyond the Special Flood Hazard Area, which would greatly simplify planning for flood hazards. But actual flooding events are inconsistent and unpredictable when compared to flood risk maps. Flooding events larger than the 1% annual chance flood are not well captured with a flood map, so caution must always be exercised when relying on the maps for future planning.

It is also important to understand the different types of flooding a property can be exposed to because it can impact building regulations, insurance rating, construction style, and building materials used, all of which are applied to best protect assets, life safety, and the environment. The first type is coastal flooding, which results from extreme tidal conditions and wind, creating a storm surge which pushes water onshore and often is the greatest cause of flood damage. The second type is fluvial flooding, which occurs when excessive rainfall exceeds the holding capacity of a river channel or other waterbody, and can be further categorized as overbank flooding. The last type is pluvial flooding, which is also called surface flooding or urban flooding. A pluvial flood event can be independent of, but also the result of, the other types of flooding, debunking the myth that flooding can only occur near a body of water. Surface flooding can become more extreme through poor engineering design, loss of vegetation, large amounts of impervious surface such as parking lots, and inadequate urban drainage systems.

So which type of flooding imposes the most risk in your life? If you are having a difficult time deciding which one is the most troublesome, this may be because you are impacted by two, or in some situations, all three types of flooding. Identifying which type of flooding your property may be most prone to, combined with purchasing flood insurance and implementing practical mitigation strategies, is a wise strategy for protecting your home or business.

The NFIP has its imperfections, but if more stakeholders take time to better understand the different types of risk and types of flooding that can affect their properties, damage can be minimized. Flood is not only a government problem, it is everyone’s problem, and education is always a wonderful first step to making better flood-related decisions.


In the News

How Federal Flood Policy Is, and Isn’t, Addressing Climate Change Today

By: Patrick Sisson, Curbed, updated September 20, 2019

As part of a huge effort to update the systems that help the country rebuild from natural disasters, lawmakers and local leaders are asking big questions: how do we balance rebuilding and resilience? How do we get more homeowners to sign up for insurance without making it unduly expensive? And how can we afford to rebuild in an era where a storm like the recent Hurricane Barry, expected to cause up to $900 million in damages according to insurance analyst CoreLogic, isn’t even big enough to qualify as a blockbuster natural disaster anymore?

Read more!

Canada Tries a Forceful Message for Flood Victims: Live Someplace Else

By: Christopher Flavelle, The New York Times, September 10, 2019, Updated September 11, 2019

Along the coast of the United States, people who lost homes to Hurricane Dorian are preparing to rebuild. But Canada — which has faced devastating flooding of its own — is testing a very different idea of disaster recovery: Forcing people to move.

Unlike the United States, which will repeatedly help pay for people to rebuild in place, Canada has responded to the escalating costs of climate change by limiting aid after disasters, and even telling people to leave their homes. It is an experiment that has exposed a complex mix of relief, anger and loss as entire neighborhoods are removed, house by house.

Read more!



dwelling form

Standard Flood Insurance Policy - Dwelling Form

Taking the time to read an actual flood insurance policy form is a great way to understand what is covered and what is not. It also provides helpful definitions and instructions on handling claims. If you have specific questions about the terms or processes involved, an insurance agent who specializes in flood is a fantastic resource! Another good source of information is FloodSmart.gov, the official website of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Click here to download a PDF of the 2015 Dwelling Form, as published on FEMA's website.

dorian beach

A sea turtle nest is exposed as the pounding surf of Hurricane Dorian erodes the dune line at Coconut Point Park In Melbourne Beach (Photo: Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY)

USGS Scientists Document Hurricane Dorian’s Impacts

After a rapid response to Hurricane Dorian that involved scientists from multiple science centers in five states, the USGS is beginning to gather and analyze the evidence of storm tides and coastal erosion left behind by the hurricane. Field crews are recovering the more than 350 scientific instruments that documented storm-tides triggered by the hurricane, and are processing the instruments’ recorded data. Research oceanographers are examining photographic evidence of storm-caused coastal erosion.

The scientific assessments already beginning can help decision makers, emergency responders and communities recover from the effects of Hurricane Dorian and prepare for future storms. This included the ability to forecast coastal change; track storm tides, river and stream levels and flow; measure coastal and inland flooding across entire regions; capture high-resolution ground elevation and topographic data; and create detailed maps used by disaster teams responding in the aftermath of storms.

Learn more!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Texas Home Sellers Have To Disclose More Flood Risk Information Now. But Will It Help Buyers?

By: Jen Rice, Houston Public Media, August 15, 2019

This article is a great example of the importance of flood education in real estate!

During Hurricane Harvey, many homeowners who flooded didn’t realize they were at risk, but that could be changing. Starting on September 1, prospective buyers will receive additional details about a property’s flood risk when a new state law goes into effect, requiring more information on the updated seller’s disclosure form.

Adding flood pool to the list of disclosures is starting a new conversation the real estate industry has never had before, Baldwin said.

“We’re going to have to do a better job of explaining. I now know to have a conversation with anybody looking at a house west of about 1960,” Baldwin said. “We’re just going to start talking about ‘Do you know where the reservoir is? Do you know what a floodplain is? Do you know what a flood pool is?’”

Read more!


NFIP Guidance

October 1, 2019 Program Changes in Effect!

A FEMA memorandum dated April 1, 2019 provided notification of changes that the NFIP will implement effective on October 1st. These changes will modify the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual, Pivot System of Record reporting, and the Specific Rating Guidelines Document.

Click here to view the memo and see what changes are now effective.

Free Educational Workshop in Boston! November 5-6, 2019

In honor of National Preparedness Month, both FEMA and FIMA have taken extra measures to provide education and public outreach information. FEMA will be hosting an educational event called "DSS-WISE Lite - Rapid Dam Break Flood and Consequence Assessment" at The Learning Center, FEMA Region 1, in Boston, MA, on November 5-6, 2019. The workshop is intended for State Dam Safety and Emergency Management Agency Staff, Community Officials, Emergency Managers, Dam Safety Professionals, FEMA HQ Staff, FEMA Insurance Actuaries and FEMA Contractors.

Click here to learn more!

OOB Mail

History Corner

100 years ago, on October 24, 1919, aviator Harry M. Jones of Old Orchard Beach, Maine was sworn in as Special Messenger for the First Airplane Mail flight in Maine. Jones operated an airport and flying service at Old Orchard Beach from 1919 to 1933. The hard sand at low tide made the beach an attractive land and take-off spot for airplanes.

Photo contributed by the Old Orchard Beach Historical Society to the Maine Memory Network.


October Flood Funny

October flood cartoon

Image by Dave Granlund

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