Welcome to the Flood Zone! A nationally distributed resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, and edu

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Welcome to the Flood Zone!

A nationally distributed resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, and educational opportunities. If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, simply click the unsubscribe link in the footer of this message.

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Message from Jim

As an advocate of the National Flood Insurance Program, the last four years have been interesting. We all know the story starts with the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12). That was soon followed by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) of 2014, which reversed or slowed the implementation process of portions of BW-12 provisions. Oddly, it has been extremely quiet since then, to a point that many believe that flood risk and premiums became a concern not worthy of much attention in the future. Articles are now surfacing as the reform process continues which acknowledge the understanding that the program has been moving forward since 2012, just a bit slower. This process needs to occur.

Turning back the clock a bit into the 19th century, did you know that the "Great Flood of 1862", which mainly impacted land currently encompassing California, Oregon, and Nevada, and to a lesser degree; Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in Dec. 1861 - Jan. 1862 is known as the storm that caused California to go bankrupt? Interestingly, if this event occurred today, the magnitude of this storm due to the increase of infrastructure and development would result in an estimated $725 billion in damage (Ingram, 2013). Now I realize a response may be that the number is not real or can’t be computed, but wrapped nicely inside this figure is the need to understand the urgency to change flood risk perception and behavior. Did you know that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates between 1970 and 2010, a population increase of 39% (34.8 million people) has occurred in the United States Shoreline County population (NOAA, 2015). Society continues to move to locations which flooding can reach more easily. Scenic views and the anticipated increase in real estate values continue to place immense strain on the NFIP, natural resources, and life safety.

Six weeks ago, Central Louisiana celebrated a flood insurance victory four years in the making when approximately 2,000 homeowners surrounding the Beaver Bayou received letters telling residents their homes and properties were no longer classified as being in a high-risk flood zone requiring expensive mandatory flood insurance policies (Allen, 2016). Or did they? Three weeks later, much of the same area was under several feet of water! I'm not sure if “expensive mandatory flood insurance” is the appropriate phrase to use. Hopefully, changing coverage to a Preferred Risk Policy instead of eliminating the coverage was the popular choice. Non-mandatory flood insurance does not mean safe from flooding.

Education remains the steadfast foundation of understanding flood risk. Whether to gain a better understanding of program reform, or acknowledge the difference between perceived and actual risk, our ability to make sound choices and plan for the future increases as our education increases. In my opinion, it is that simple! Habits aid us in remaining alive in a changing world, but only intelligence can furnish the means for progressive adjustments (Lindeman, 1961).


Upcoming 3 Credit Continuing Education Class:

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Join us at Husson University on September 20, 2016 for a 3-hour continuing education course approved for 3 credits for Maine real estate licensees, real estate appraisers, and code enforcement officers (land use).

This program is designed to educate real estate professionals seeking to further their professional development, as well as enhance client representation. The first module provides an in-depth understanding of common land surveying products: Mortgage Loan Inspections and Boundary Surveys. The second module gives an introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and its widespread impact on risk assessment, insurance rates, real estate value, community requirements, and permitting and design decisions.

Where: Husson University, 340 County Road, Westbrook, ME (Room 162)
When: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Fee: $39

Maine Association of Assessing Officers (MAAO) Fall Conference, Sept. 7-9, 2016

Jim will be presenting "Land Surveying, Flood Zones, and Real Estate" for CEO Training on Thursday September 8th, 2016 from 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM at the Sebasco Harbor Resort.
Credits are available for MBOIA Members.
For more information on the three day conference click here.

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Washington County, Maine - Flood Information Session, September 26th

What: Information on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map updating process in Washington County, including the rights and requirements for appealing the preliminary map information

Who: Sue Baker, Maine National Flood Insurance Program Coordinator and Jenn Curtis, Floodplain Mapping Coordinator

When: September 26th, from 5:30 – 7:00

Where: the Washington County Executive Committee Meeting at the Eastport Port Authority at 141 Water St. Eastport, ME 04631

For more information, contact: Jennifer Curtis jennifer.curtis@maine.gov



Flood Risk and Insurance Statistics

"A 2013 study of coastal areas by CoreLogic found that 4.2 million homes, with $1.1 trillion in total property exposure, are at risk of damage caused by hurricane storm surge flooding. In the Atlantic Coast region alone, there are approximately 2.4 million homes at risk, valued at more than $793 billion. Total exposure along the Gulf Coast is $354 billion, with 1.8 million homes at risk for potential storm-surge damage. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover property damage from storm surge."

Interested in statistics about significant flooding events, flood insurance losses, and policies in force? Check out the *Insurance Information Institute's flood insurance page* on their website.


Flood Terminology: Breakaway Wall

A wall that is not part of the structural support of the building and is intended through its design and construction to collapse under specific lateral loading forces, without causing damage to the elevated portion of the building or supporting foundation system. Breakaway walls are used in the construction of buildings located in coastal high hazard areas (V Zones) which may experience wave action. FEMA has published Technical Bulletin 9: Design and Construction Guidance for Breakaway Walls Below Elevated Buildings to help with the process.

"NFIP regulations require that the area below the lowest floor of elevated buildings either be free of obstructions or have any enclosed areas be constructed of non-supporting breakaway walls, open lattice-work, or insect screening. The walls, lattice, or screening are intended to collapse under wave loads without causing collapse, displacement, or other structural damage to the elevated building or the supporting foundation system. Obstructions below an elevated building can significantly increase the potential for flood damage by increasing the surface area subject to wave impact and velocity flow." (FEMA, 2008)


In the News

What [Insurance] Agents Need to Know About the October Flood Insurance Changes

By Caitlin Bronson, Business Insurance America, August 31, 2016
Section 28 of the 2014 law requires NFIP insurers to clearly communicate these flood risk determinations to policyholders, through direct mailing and other documentation. FEMA’s phased approach to the risk reassessment began with new policies April 1 and continues October 1 for policies including:

Policies receiving pre-FIRM subsidized rates
Standard B, C and X-zone-rated policies
Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs)
Policies rated under the Newly Mapped rating procedure



September Flood Funny

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