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: "Cities Are Flouting Flood Rules. The Cost: $1 Billion" and "Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted for 2020"
Resources: "Storm Surge Hazard Maps to Help Evaluate Risk" and "FEMA's Flood Map Changes Viewer"
Land Surveying Corner: "Highlights from the University of Maine's Surveying Engineering Technology Spring Newsletter"
Real Estate Corner: "How Disasters — Manmade or Natural — Affect the Real Estate Market"

Banner Image: Flooding in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, 2017. Photo Credit: Richard Carson | Reuters


Message from Jim

By definition, the “Cassandra Effect” is the disbelief in, or dismissal of, a prediction of misfortune or disaster. In Greek mythology, Cassandra is the daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy. In Homer’s Iliad, she was promised the power of prophecy by Apollo if she complied with his desires. After receiving the gift, she refused his requests, so he ordained that her prophecies should never be believed (Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2020).

Today, the so-called “Cassandra Effect” applies in many professional fields, including psychology, finance, neurology, engineering, and medicine, to name a few. In the environmental field, for example, those who warn of impending disasters relating to climate change, and are disbelieved or mocked, are sometimes referred to as "Cassandras". As we know, disbelief in the consequences of particular actions can lead to a refusal to correct risky behaviors, creating a moral hazard. In response, society must execute mitigation strategies that slow the effects of the many high-risk choices people continue to make every day. It is not responsible, nor is it fair, to fuel our bad decisions by allowing future generations to resolve the problems we have created. There are many sound reasons to practice mitigation strategies which avoid depleting natural resources while protecting our livelihood. Our subjective values must become aligned with objective principles.

We may not be able to control Mother Nature, but we have the ability to make better decisions for our future. As engineers and geospatial consultants continue to share data, knowledge, and insight to future global changes through mapping and modeling, an immense sense of urgency to implement long-term mitigation strategies must be applied. Sea levels will continue to rise, construction of buildings and impervious surfaces will increase, and natural resources will be reduced or eliminated, so the belief that “it won’t happen in my lifetime” should be replaced with the question of “how can I help?" It is never too late to make positive changes.


In the News

Cities Are Flouting Flood Rules. The Cost: $1 Billion

By Christopher Flavelle and John Schwartz, The New York Times, April 9, 2020

It’s a simple rule, designed to protect both homeowners and taxpayers: If you want publicly subsidized flood insurance, you can’t build a home that’s likely to flood.

But local governments around the country, which are responsible for enforcing the rule, have flouted the requirements, accounting for as many as a quarter-million insurance policies in violation, according to data provided to The New York Times by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the flood insurance program. Those structures accounted for more than $1 billion in flood claims during the past decade, the data show.

That toll is likely to increase as climate change makes flooding more frequent and intense.

Read more!


Image by NOAA.

Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted for 2020

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, May 21, 2020

An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. The outlook predicts a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season and only a 10% chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.

Read more!



US storymap sm

The above image is from the "Texas to Maine" Interactive Map Viewer. Other data sets include Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Hispaniola.

Storm Surge Hazard Maps to Help Evaluate Risk

The National Hurricane Center is releasing Storm Surge Hazard Maps to assist hurricane-prone areas in a range of planning processes, risk assessment studies, and operational decision-making. As with other flood hazard maps, caution should be exercised in regards to property-level accuracy. As described in NHC's disclaimer, "the data and maps illustrate the height of possible storm surge flooding under certain scenarios, and do not account for erosion, subsidence, sea-level change or future construction. Water levels are based on storm surge scenarios referenced in their models. The data, maps, and information provided should only be used as a tool for general education/awareness of the storm surge hazard at a city/community level (not for a parcel level/grid cell assessment)".

Learn more about storm surge and the the National Hurricane Center's preparedness tools!

Map Viewer

FEMA's Flood Map Changes Viewer

Did you know that you can view side by side images of the current flood maps and the preliminary flood maps for a particular location? When using the viewer, you will be directed to an ArcGIS platform. Follow the prompts to enter an address, pin the location, and run the viewer. There is also a link to a tutorial for additional instruction. As with other preliminary data sources, it is important to understand that preliminary products are subject to change, and should only be used for informational purposes, as they are not yet an effective product.

Click here to explore the Flood Map Changes Viewer (FMCV).


Image from UMaine Online

Land Surveying Corner

Highlights from the University of Maine's Surveying Engineering Technology Spring Newsletter

A total of 135 undergraduate students have passed with the help of the online course offerings. Based on applications received by last September, the program will surpass 150 undergraduates, with the first online undergraduate student graduating this May!

Enrollment in the Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Surveying Engineering and Graduate Certificate in Surveying Engineering is 20+ students in the completely on-line programs.

A large influx of students has occurred due to the online degrees, combined with an incredible reduction in out of state tuition costs (so-called E tuition which is in-state*1.25). Veterans, no matter where they live, qualify for in-state tuition along with dependents using a veteran's G.I. Bill.

Click here to learn more about the Surveying Engineering Technology program at UMaine!

for sale

Real Estate Corner

How Disasters — Manmade or Natural — Affect the Real Estate Market

By Jon Gorey, Boston Globe, February 5, 2020

Because the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps are available to the public, many buyers understand the risk they’re taking when they buy in a documented flood plain, said Jeffrey Cohen, a University of Connecticut professor of finance and real estate.

However, as the climate warms and storms grow stronger and wetter, locations once considered safe are also getting hit — and when our expectations of risk change, home values can react in kind.

Read more!


June Flood Funny

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