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
Maine NFIP Corner "FEMA Vacancy Announcement - Emergency Management Specialist (Mitigation)" and "BRIC/FMA Application Period Opens for Historic Level of Funding to Make Communities More Resilient"
Real Estate Corner: "13 Fast Flood Facts to Share with Your Clients" and "‘It’s like a death:’ What It’s Like to Leave One Flood-prone Community"
In the News: "What the Devastation from Hurricane Ian Tell Us About Florida's Building Codes"
Resources: "Updated NFIP Flood Insurance Manual", "Sinking Tax Base: Land & Property at Risk from Rising Seas", "Mitigating the Risk of Extreme Temperatures with Hazard Mitigations Funds" and "Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action: Rating Variables (Part 1)"
Climate Corner: "Looking Back on America's Summer of Heat, Floods and Climate Change: Welcome to the New Abnormal"

Banner Image: "Debris from flash flooding buried or trapped about 60 vehicles at Death Valley National Park in August". (NPS, 2022) Image from "Federal Flood Maps Are Outdated Because of Climate Change, FEMA Director Says", Smithsonian Magazine, September 9, 2022.


Message from Jim

With reduced purchase and sales transactions, low inventory, increased inflation and higher interest rates, the real estate brokerage industry is shifting and a market correction is in process. The opportunity for real estate professionals and the public to strengthen flood risk perception and acknowledge its impact on value has never been greater.

For real estate values to appropriately reflect actual flood risk and local hazards, in-depth flood disclosure should become the standard driver in every transaction. There is no better available data than the history of the dwelling as it relates to flood risk and damage. If this data is not properly disclosed, property owners are accepting unknown risks which can lead to further strain on the real estate industry and local economy.

Technological advances aid in understanding risk, but for the most part, only if the underlying data is more current and utilized to create a new flood study, and minimal development has occurred in the vicinity since the map’s latest revision. You can see how this makes it difficult for flood risk tools to remain accurate. As well, real estate flood risk platforms such as My Flood Status and Flood Factor® may use similar or more updated underlying data, but capturing actual risk will always be a large challenge due to many other contributing factors that a software platform will not capture.

Having implemented Risk Rating 2.0, the new methodology for generating flood insurance premiums, the National Flood Insurance Program is diligently trying to shift away from the binary understanding of risk, which is best defined as a structure having flood risk if falls in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or having no flood risk if it falls outside. The type of flood zone is no longer used to determine rates; however, the SFHAs on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps are still being used to determine if mandatory flood insurance is required. Furthermore, if Realtors and homeowners are determining flood risk with the aid of the above-mentioned platforms, the binary strategy will remain a large obstacle to applying appropriate mitigation and resiliency strategies that best address actual flood risk. The over-simplified “in” or “out” concept must be dismantled.

Enter improved flood disclosure to better capture actual flood risk, despite the limitations of the current risk assessment processes. Disclosure questions that address past flood or drainage damage, repetitive or substantial improvement or damage history, presence of a flood insurance policy, flood zone designation, Pre-FIRM or Post-FIRM construction status, or presence of an Elevation Certificate, would enhance program stability as it will more proficiently capture risk and value.

Considering the increasing occurrence of flood claims outside of a SFHA further exacerbated with the impacts of changing climate, we must accept what appears to be a negative in our understanding of flood risk, and have vision as to what we can do to create a better solution. More in-depth flood disclosure in each real estate transaction is a very practical and achievable action that could lead to tangible results.


Maine NFIP Corner

Sue Baker, CFM, State NFIP Coordinator

FEMA Vacancy Announcement - Emergency Management Specialist (Mitigation)

FEMA is searching for a well-qualified candidate for the Emergency Management Specialist position in the Floodplain Management and Insurance Branch of the Mitigation Division of Region I. This is a permanent full-time (PFT) position with a Boston, MA duty station.

Click here to learn more and apply for the position.

BRIC/FMA Application Period Opens for Historic Level of Funding to Make Communities More Resilient

The application period is open for more than $3 billion in funding for two annual mitigation grant programs that enhance climate resiliency.

The application period is open for FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Fiscal Year 2022 grant programs. The funding was bolstered by nearly $900 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, which provided $200 million for BRIC and $700 million for Flood Mitigation Assistance.

A total of approximately $2.3 billion is available through the BRIC program and another $800 million through the Flood Mitigation Assistance program. The grants provide funds to communities to enhance resiliency to natural hazards.

The funding notices for both programs are available at Eligible applicants must apply for funding using FEMA Grants Outcomes, the agency’s grants management system. Submit applications in FEMA Grants Outcome Portal no later than 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 27, 2023. Applications received by FEMA after this deadline will not be considered for funding.

for sale

Real Estate Corner

13 Fast Flood Facts to Share with Your Clients

FEMA, October 2022

To successfully sell flood insurance, you need to keep your eye on the latest trends and data. We’ve collected a list of relevant statistics to help you better connect with your customers, help existing clients understand their risk and reach a new target audience.

Think of this as a tiny cheat sheet to keep on hand when you need flood facts fast!

Click here to learn the fast facts!


Signs warn potential home buyers about flooding issues near Starcreek Circle in the Bridge Creek neighborhood of Socastee, South Carolina. (Madeline Gray for The Washington Post)

‘It’s like a death:’ What It’s Like to Leave One Flood-prone Community

By: Brady Dennis, Washington Post, October 25, 2022

Buyouts and home elevations can alter the character of communities, impact property values and sow division among neighbors. But the prospect of chronic flooding brings its own form of upheaval, mental anguish and financial strain.

Click here to read the full article.


In the News

What the Devastation from Hurricane Ian Tell Us About Florida's Building Codes

By: A Martinez, NPR Morning Edition, October 6, 2022.

Hurricane Ian was the latest reminder for the need to adapt our infrastructure to deal with the rapidly changing climate. Florida had been preparing for such storms since Hurricane Andrew struck in the early 1990s. The state updated its building codes to make sure new buildings could survive high-wind speeds. But the widespread damage seen during Ian has some asking if the current code is strong enough or if building codes are even the answer to increasingly powerful storms.

Click here to read the transcript or listen to the audio interview on NPR.




Updated NFIP Flood Insurance Manual

The October 2022 edition of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Manual is now available to view and download.

The current manuals are for use with the Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action pricing methodology or with the legacy rating plan, depending on policy effective dates.

Click here to learn more and download the manual.


Sinking Tax Base: Land & Property at Risk from Rising Seas

A new analysis by Climate Central delivers an assessment of sea level rise impact on the tax base of hundreds of coastal U.S. counties—specifically, the potential loss of taxable properties caused by shifting tidal boundaries.

Coastal flooding is an increasingly severe problem in much of the United States, with consequences for the value of coastal properties–and on the local property tax base that funds schools, emergency services, and more. Property lost to coastal flooding also risks the tax revenue it represents.

Click here to download the 14-page report from Climate Central.


Mitigating the Risk of Extreme Temperatures with Hazard Mitigations Assistance Funds

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation measures that build climate resilience. These funds can be used to plan for and mitigate risks posted by natural hazards, including extreme temperatures. As part of FEMA’s efforts to help emergency managers take action and invest locally in resilience, FEMA has released the “Mitigating the Risk of Extreme Temperatures with Hazard Mitigation Assistance Funds” Fact Sheet to help communities identify opportunities for HMA and other available FEMA resources.

Click here to download a PDF of the FEMA Fact Sheet.


Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action: Rating Variables (Part 1)

FEMA’s new rating methodology, Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, considers specific characteristics of a building to provide a more modern, individualized, and equitable flood insurance rate. This video discusses a building’s rating variables related to where it’s built and begins to talk about the impact of how it’s built.

Click here to view the 6:03 minute video on YouTube.


Climate Corner

Looking Back on America's Summer of Heat, Floods and Climate Change: Welcome to the New Abnormal

By: Shuange-Ye Wu, The Conversation, September 21, 2022

The most recent international climate assessment from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found significant increases in both the frequency and intensity of extreme temperature and precipitation events, leading to more droughts and floods.

A recent study published in the scientific journal Nature found that extreme flooding and droughts are also getting deadlier and more expensive, despite an improving capacity to manage climate risks. This is because these extreme events, enhanced by climate change, often exceed the designed levels of such management strategies.

Climate models showed these risks were coming.

Click here to read the full article.


November Flood Funny


Image by Dave Granlund

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