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
Education Events: "Mapping, Managing, and Regulating Floodplains" and "Living Shorelines and Coastal Resilience: A Look into the Future of Coastal Management"
In the News: "The 2019 FEMA Elevation Certificate Has Been Published!" and "New Bipartisan Flood Insurance Legislation Introduced in the House"
Resources: "Flood Mapping for the Nation: A Cost Analysis for Completing and Maintaining the Nation's NFIP Flood Map Inventory" and "How Can I Pay Less For Flood Insurance?"
Real Estate Corner: "Flood Insurance, Commercial Real Estate and Climate Change"
History Corner: "When San Diego Hired a Rainmaker a Century Ago, It Poured"

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

In 2017, the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) conducted a study to estimate the costs and benefits of elevating the lowest floor of a structure. The study utilized a 2,000 square foot structure, assumed its lowest floor was built to the published Base Flood Elevation (BFE), and constructed in accordance to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards. While the study evaluated several foundation construction types, let’s take a closer look at the “stem wall with fill” to better understand the cost and benefits of building higher. But first, let’s define “Freeboard”.

Freeboard is a term used by the NFIP to describe a factor of safety usually expressed in feet above the published Base Flood Elevation. The program requires the lowest floor of structures built in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) to be at or above the BFE (FEMA, 2014). In the study, the average additional cost to build the lowest floor 1’ above the BFE on a stem wall with fill was $2,345; 2’ above was $4,690; and 3’ above was $7,035 (ASFPM, 2018). Costs for other types of foundations (concrete block piers, or crawlspace type foundations) were lower.

Utilizing freeboard and building to a higher standard has multiple benefits. One obvious benefit is protecting life safety and the physical asset by reducing physical damage, repair costs, or the need to rebuild or relocate. Another benefit is the reduced cost of flood insurance, because risk is reduced.

In the above example, if the lowest floor is built 2’ above the BFE, the additional cost would be $4,690. The annual flood insurance premium would be reduced from $2,147 to $734, an immediate annual savings of $1,413. The extra construction expense would take only 3.3 years to retain the initial investment of $4,690, and the savings over a typical 30-year loan would be $37,300 (ASFPM, 2018). Excluded from these figures are other fees and surcharges peripheral to the actual annual premium, none of which will remain fixed over a 30-year period. Additionally, if the $4,690 was financed at 4% over a 30-year term, the monthly mortgage payment increase would only be $23.

Strong consideration should also be given to the long-term increase in sale value for a structure with less damage and maintenance, and a lower insurance premium due to having lower risk. For more information, please view the below resources.

ASFPM Costs & Benefits of Building Higher

FEMA Freeboard Reference


Education Events

Mapping, Managing, and Regulating Floodplains - Full Day Seminar!

April 2, 2020, 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM, Fort Washington, PA

Wendy Lathrop, is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), and is a Professional Land Surveyor (PLS) licensed in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, is collaborating with HalfMoon Education, Inc. to offer a full day continuing education seminar covering many topics in floodplain management. 6.5 Learning Units will be offered for this event.

Click here to learn more and register for the seminar.

Living Shorelines and Coastal Resilience: A Look into the Future of Coastal Management

April 14, 2020, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM, Westbrook, CT

E.J. Prescott is offering a full day workshop to bring awareness to the latest programs, technology, case studies, and regulations that will help create a more resilient future in the face of climate change and sea level rise. Participants in this event will receive certificates for 5 Professional Development Hours.

Click here to download a PDF of the flyer and registration form.


In the News

The 2019 FEMA Elevation Certificate Has Been Published!

The 2019 edition of FEMA's Elevation Certificate has been released with a new expiration date of November 30, 2022. FEMA has not yet released a news bulletin with details about the transition from the expired form. Stay tuned!

Click here to learn more and download a PDF of the new form!

New Bipartisan Flood Insurance Legislation Introduced in the House

By Danielle Ling, Property Casualty 360, February 11, 2020

The Repeatedly Flooded Communities Preparation Act (RFCPA) seeks to reduce the number of repeat flood claims and loss properties within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Introduced by Reps. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and sponsored by Reps. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) and Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), the bill would require communities with 50 or more repetitive loss structures and that have seen NFIP claims or received Stafford Act assistance in the past decade to identify mitigation strategies to address repeatedly flooded areas, such as drainage improvements or voluntary buyout programs.

Read more!




Flood Mapping for the Nation: A Cost Analysis for Completing and Maintaining the Nation's NFIP Flood Map Inventory

Association of State Floodplain Managers, January 2020

Since the inception of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1969, the nation has invested $6.6 billion ($10.6 billion in 2019 dollars) in flood hazard mapping to date, and realized multiple benefits from that investment. These benefits go beyond its uses for the NFIP to include community planning, design and construction of key infrastructure such as highways, bridges, water treatment facilities and much more. Commercial, private and public safety uses of flood hazard information reduce flood losses that would otherwise be paid for by taxpayers through federal and state disaster assistance. With a 2-to-1 benefit ratio, the $10.6 billion in investment equates to nearly $22 billion in savings from avoided flood damages.

Download the full report!

FEMA Icons Web 2 Featured Content

How Can I Pay Less For Flood Insurance?

A flood insurance premium is based on a number of factors, but there are a few key actions a property owner can take to pay less for flood insurance each year:

Lower your flood risk
Choose a higher deductible
Provide an Elevation Certificate to your insurance agent
Encourage your community to mitigate risk

Learn more!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Flood Insurance, Commercial Real Estate and Climate Change

By Alexandra Hill and Jason Rozes, JDSupra, February 20, 2020

Climate change is forcing the commercial real estate industry to re-think the effectiveness of flood insurance that developers, lenders and investors have relied on for decades.

Rising sea levels and more extreme weather events could push that reliance to a breaking point. In 2018, approximately $91 billion in damages resulted from 14 weather and climate disasters in the United States alone, each with losses exceeding $1 billion, mostly to residential and commercial real estate.

Flood insurance is one of many areas of concern that climate change is bringing to the commercial real estate finance industry.

Read more!

CharlesHatfield 1050x700

Charles Hatfield, the rainmaker, checking some equipment. Photo credit: Bettmann/Corbis/AP Images

History Corner

"When San Diego Hired a Rainmaker a Century Ago, It Poured"

By Christopher Klein, JSTOR Daily, December 12, 2015

As California endures its worst drought in 1,200 years, residents of the Golden State are turning to extreme—and desperate—measures to quench their collective thirst. Sun-baked farmers are hiring “water witches” to divine underground water sources with forked branches, while a company called Rain on Request has pledged to end the drought by building electrical towers that would induce rainfall by ionizing the atmosphere. When California found itself in a similar parched position exactly 100 years ago, the city of San Diego did something that seems even more bizarre—it hired a rainmaker. The thing is, it might have worked. After Charles Mallory Hatfield began his work to wring water from the skies, San Diego experienced its wettest period in recorded history. So was the rain an act of God or an act of Hatfield?

Read more!



This Month Marks the Bicentennial of Maine's Independence!

Once part of Massachusetts, Maine became independent—very independent—in March of 1820. As the official host of the celebration of the century, Maine’s Bicentennial Commission invites you to get involved in Maine200 starting now.

Maine200 is the perfect occasion to explore all that makes Maine what it is today—our land and waters, history, people and institutions, challenges and successes.

Learn more!


March Flood Funny


Image from the Houston Chronicle, May 17, 2018

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company