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
Announcement: An update from Nadeau Land Surveys
In the News: "Can Newspaper Reporting Uncover Flood Risk?" and "Resilience"
Resources: "NFIP Summary of Coverage" and "How States Can Manage the Challenges of Paying for Natural Disasters" and "What is Green Infrastructure?"
Climate Corner: "Beating Back the Tides"
Flood Insurance: Myth or Fact? Flood Insurance Does Not Cover Basements. Find out below!
Real Estate Corner: "Flood Case Law Study Released"
Banner Image: A festive scene from Alamitos Heights, Long Beach, CA. Image by Craig Wallace, Alamito Heights Blog, December 19, 2013.


Message from Jim

Flood risk uncertainty is a complex and often misunderstood concept. Sure, it may be easy to comprehend the extensive reach and devastation of large coastal storms such as Katrina, Harvey, and Sandy since the media effectively uses stories and imagery to show how thousands of people are negatively impacted. However, even with such exposure to these flood hazards, why do these immense storms fail to modify personal behavior in a way that better prepares communities for future flood risk?

Systematic biases play a large role in downgrading the occurrence of low-probability/high-consequence events. Unfortunately, it would appear that along with our accepting the reduced likelihood of large coastal storms, we also often diminish the need or interest to adequately prepare for smaller flooding events such as river overtopping, urban flooding, or King Tides, which also cause major devastation but occur more frequently throughout the entire country. Another example of a systematic bias is inertia, which is characterized as ignoring uncertainty by maintaining the status quo. Psychological biases often inhibit the adoption of sound resiliency and mitigation strategies, creating obstacles to changing behavior. Modifying a myopic or inert mindset can help us better understand flood risk uncertainty, so that we can prepare for such life-changing events in a more proactive way.

One strategy to improve our understanding is learning how a life-changing event impacts both short-term and long-term components of an individual’s life. For example, what is the likelihood that a person will implement healthy eating habits to reduce the chances of a heart attack if no symptoms are present? Would it change one’s behavior to learn that heart attacks without symptoms can increase the risk of dying from heart disease by three times, compared with those who have never had a heart attack, or that “Silent Heart Attacks” account for 45 percent of all attacks in the United States? (Miller, 2016)

Understanding that extreme events are often two-fold is very important. Whether it is a flooding event or a heart attack, the stand-alone event often requires immediate attention and can result in loss of life, home, real estate, or employment, and could be followed with a long-term or permanent lifestyle change. Perhaps viewing a flooding event as having a long-term impact instead of a short-term impact will help garner the needed attention to more clearly understand the risk, just like a heart attack.

As I continue my deep dive into the world of flood, it becomes clearer that flood risk mitigation and preparedness will remain deficient if we do not challenge and improve the way we make decisions. Technology can aid in this process, but will always have limitations. Even as more precise data is collected, we must understand flood risk uncertainty does not necessarily become more accurate. Proposing economic or engineering solutions for preparedness must be supported with a challenge to our personal biases for them to be truly effective. Improved education will always remain an important catalyst in this process!



Our very own Tom Blake recently accepted the position of Historical Committee Chair for the Maine Society of Land Surveyors. Besides being a Professional Land Surveyor and a Certified Floodplain Manager, Tom has served several years as the curator for the New Gloucester, Maine, Historical Society in his hometown, and is the proud author of Images of America - New Gloucester.


In the News

Can Newspaper Reporting Uncover Flood Risk?

By Sarah Derouin, Eos, November 2, 2020

When figuring out flood risk, it’s important to collect data on past flooding events. In some areas, detailed records of rainfall and stream gauges are available. But in regions that are dry or sparsely monitored, this critical information is missing.

Enter a different kind of record: newspapers. Areas that have experienced flooding likely had an accompanying local news story documenting the event, including what particular areas were flooded and the extent of damage.

Click here to read the full article.


By Karin de Bruijn,Journal of Flood Risk Management, November 15, 2020

The COVID19 crisis may teach us things about crisis management that may also be useful for flood risk management. Although floods are very different from pandemics, important lessons can be learned, for example, on what is vital and must continue functioning (e.g., schools, health care), on how experts and politicians should or could best work together (sharing responsibilities), on the need of involving all relevant stakeholders when taking decisions, and on communication. The crisis reveals societies' abilities to join forces and take care of each other, as well as their innovative capacities, which results in workable alternatives for shortages in supplies, increased hospital capacity, and adapted procedures that allow opening of buildings and participating in activities in a safer way. These contribute to society's resilience to cope with the pandemic and will also contribute to its recovery in the future.

Click here to read the full editorial.




NFIP Summary of Coverage

The NFIP's most recent Summary of Coverage has been published. To help consumers better understand their flood insurance policy, this summary provides information about what's included in the policy’s declaration page, defines common NFIP terminology, describes items that are covered (and not covered), and gives tips to help with the claims process.

Click here to download the NFIP's Summary of Coverage


How States Can Manage the Challenges of Paying for Natural Disasters

Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts has uncovered three actions that state policymakers can take to improve their understanding of the fiscal impact of natural disasters on state budgets and assess how resources might be better allocated for the long term:

1. Comprehensive tracking
2. Budgeting mechanism assessments
3. Mitigation integration
1. Comprehensive tracking
2. Budgeting mechanism assessments
3. Mitigation integration

Download the brief by The Pew Charitable Trusts, published September 16, 2020.

downspout rev

What is Green Infrastructure?

Section 502 of the Clean Water Act defines green infrastructure as "...the range of measures that use plant or soil systems, permeable pavement or other permeable surfaces or substrates, stormwater harvest and reuse, or landscaping to store, infiltrate, or evapotranspirate stormwater and reduce flows to sewer systems or to surface waters."

Stormwater runoff is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas. Green infrastructure is a cost-effective, resilient approach to managing wet weather impacts that provides many community benefits.

Learn more from the Environmental Protection Agency's website.


Ramsay Road, which runs along the cemetery on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy, flooded more than 40 times in 2018 and 2019. Credit: David Kriebel

Climate Corner

Beating Back the Tides

By Jenny Marder, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, November 11, 2020

High-tide floods, also known as nuisance floods, sunny-day floods, and recurrent tidal floods, occur “when tides reach anywhere from 1.75 to 2 feet above the daily average high tide and start spilling onto streets or bubbling up from storm drains,” according to an annual report on the subject by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA.) These floods are usually not related to storms; they typically occur during high tides, and they impact people’s lives. Because of rising seas driven by climate change, the frequency of this kind of flood has dramatically increased in recent years.

Sea level rise can feel abstract, like something looming far off in the future. But if you want to see it happening in real-time, look no further than these floods.

Read more from "Beating Back the Tides"


Flood Insurance: Myth or Fact?

MYTH: NFIP flood insurance does not cover basements

FACT: Yes, it does, but coverage is limited. The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is subgrade, or below the ground level, on all sides. Basement coverage under an NFIP policy includes cleanup expenses and items used to service the building such as elevators, furnaces, hot water heaters, washers and dryers, air conditioners, freezers, utility connections, circuit breaker boxes, pumps, and tanks used in solar energy systems. The policy does not cover the contents of a finished basement or improvements such as finished walls, floors and ceilings.

From "Myths and Facts About Flood Insurance", FEMA, November 18 2020

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Flood Case Law Study Released

By Austin Perez, National Association of Realtors, July 22, 2020

As flooding grows worse in both coastal and inland areas, NAR commissioned the Legal Research Center to compile flood-related court cases over the past two decades to help identify key patterns and takeaways for NAR members as they fulfill their fiduciary duties to clients.

This research could help inform state efforts to strengthen existing property condition disclosure requirements. In addition, NAR Legal Affairs has developed guidance with best practices for flood disclosures.

Click here to learn more about the Flood Case Law Study.

And here's a link to a video shared within the article entitled, "Window to the Law: Flood Insurance & Disclosures: What you Need to Know"


December Flood Funny

flood funny dec

Image by: David Ford, The Daily Chronicle, May 14, 2011

Powered by Mad Mimi®A GoDaddy® company