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.

Jim Headshot

Message from Jim

Did you know that water weighs 62.5 pounds per cubic foot? Since there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, a cubic yard of water weighs approximately 1,686 pounds. Of course, the weight of water will fluctuate based on salinity and temperature, but nonetheless, a cubic yard of water weighs only a few hundred pounds less than a ton, and slightly more than the original VW Beetle which weighed 1,650 pounds.

So try to visualize the strength and power of millions of VW Beetles coming on shore at the forward speed of a storm! In their path - homes, utilities, vehicles, people, infrastructure, and immensely important ecosystems, with many of these VW Beetles being dragged back into the sea along with millions of cubic yards of shoreline.

This impact on land is mostly caused by storm surge, and can be the most dangerous component of a hurricane. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the strength of this component and focus mainly on wind, but water driven by wind can cause immense damage. Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, and is over and above the predicted astronomical tide.

Factors which can impact storm surge are forward speed of the storm, intensity (wind and atmospheric pressure), angle of approach to the coast, tide height, and coastline configuration. Other factors are the land shape and elevation. Topography includes the elevation of the land, levees, roadways, seawalls, and any other barriers that affect the flow of water. Bathymetry includes the width and slope of the continental shelf off the coast. A shallow slope off the coast will potentially produce a greater storm surge than a steep shelf because there is less room for the water to flow back to the ocean (NOAA, 2015).

Understanding storm surge is an important component of preparing for a storm. With the size of our shorelines decreasing due to erosion and sea level rise, storm surge will continue to become more dangerous in the future. Learning to mitigate and prepare for storm surge must become part of each resident's and community’s strategy as our future unfolds.


Continuing Education - NEW Course!

"Flood Zone Mapping & Risk: A Guide for Real Estate Professionals"

This 3-hour, Maine Real Estate Commission-approved course is completely dedicated to floodplain management concepts, and includes real life examples, interactive demonstrations, and unique insight from a Certified Floodplain Manager who is also a Realtor and Land Surveyor. For those who are interested, this course will be followed by a discussion on upcoming changes to flood insurance rates, effective April 1st.

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Location: Husson University, Westbrook, ME
Instructor: Jim Nadeau

Topics Covered:

The National Flood Insurance Program: History, purpose, public perception, and correlation of the mapping, insurance & regulation components
NFIP Terminology and Concepts: “If the loan collateral is in the SFHA, and an EC shows the LAG is higher than the BFE, you may be eligible for a LOMA.” Learn what this, and other common flood lingo means - Hint: No mandatory flood insurance requirement!
Flood Insurance Rate Maps & Flood Zones: Special Flood Hazard Areas, paper vs. digital format, understanding preliminary data, disputing flood zone determinations, elevation certificates, and the FEMA submittal process
Navigating FEMA’s Map Service Center: Learn the process of determining if a property is in a flood zone
Flood Insurance, Hazard Disclosure, and Real Estate Value: Impact of the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 & Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 on real estate .



FEMA's Elevation Certificate has officially been renewed!

After much review, the Elevation Certificate form has been renewed with some changes, and has a new expiration date of November 30, 2018. The older form (expiration date July 31, 2015) is still in effect for 12 months after the release of the new form, and is currently available on FEMA's website.

"Examining Flood Insurance Claims in the United States: Six Key Findings"

The Journal of Risk and Insurance recently published an article that shares the findings from analysis of more than one million NFIP flood claims, looking at factors that have lead to higher or lower claims, and how they are distributed. The findings of the research provide some insight on possible reasons for low insurance demand and the challenges that the NFIP currently faces. Read the summary here!

"Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums" - Webinar

From the National Academies Press:
Join a free webinar on January 20th, 2016 at 1:00 PM EST to explore a new report on the affordability of National Flood Insurance Program premiums from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report is the second in a two-part series that offers advice to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as it investigates the affordability of flood insurance premiums that accurately reflect flood risks, and explores options for making premiums more affordable for those who have limited ability to pay.
Click here to register for this webinar.

NFIP Changes Taking Effect April 1, 2016

Given the number of major changes taking effect this spring, specifically dealing with flood insurance premium increases, we will continue to take some time to share and discuss information that may affect you or your clients. Please note, summaries provided are generalized and may not include details about particular exceptions and breakdowns. More information can be found at the NFIP iService Portal.

Premium rates will increase up to 25% annually until they reach full-risk rates for the following types of Pre-FIRM subsidized policies:
* Non-primary residential properties - lived in for less than 50% of the policy year
* Business properties - licensed commercial enterprises operated to generate income
* Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) properties (cumulatively damaged) - 2 or more claim payments occurring within 10 years of each other
* Substantially damaged/improved properties - cost of repair equals or exceeds 50% of market value of structure

To best represent your clients, determine if their property fits into any of those categories, and encourage them to address these rate increases with their insurance agent as soon as possible. These types of properties will likely see the largest rate increases, and will go into effect upon policy renewal, after April 1st.

ocean city

In the News

Improved Rating Expected to Mean Flood Insurance Discount In Ocean City

Shore News Today, December 9, 2015
That's right, a flood insurance discount in OCEAN CITY, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland, which is subject to severe storms and flooding. How is this possible? This is possible because of The National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System, a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from community actions which meet CRS goals. According to preliminary results from CRS, the Ocean City municipality has improved it's rating and should expect a premium discount of 25% next year. Read more!

CRS Chart

You may be thinking, could this type of incentive encourage development in a high-risk area, similar to how subsidized insurance rates do? Well, here's the difference: subsidized rates apply to properties that were constructed before floodplain management standards, and therefore less likely to be protected against flood damage. Under CRS, communities receive discounted premiums for enacting floodplain management standards and reducing susceptibility to damage!

Under the Community Rating System, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reward community actions that meet the three goals of the CRS, which are: (1) reduce flood damage to insurable property; (2) strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP; and (3) encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.

Nearly 3.8 million policyholders in 1,368 communities participate in the CRS by implementing local mitigation, floodplain management, and outreach activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.

(CRS Fact Sheet, FEMA, 2015)

flooded basement3

Flood Fact: The NFIP offers some types of basement coverage

The NFIP defines a basement as any area of a building with a floor that is below ground level on all sides. While flood insurance does not cover basement improvements (such as finished walls, floors, or ceilings), or personal belongings kept in a basement (such as furniture and other contents), it does cover structural elements and essential equipment.

The following items are covered under building coverage, as long as they are connected to a
power source, if required, and installed in their functioning location:
• Sump pumps
• Well water tanks and pumps, cisterns, and the water in them
• Oil tanks and the oil in them, natural gas tanks and the gas in them
• Pumps and/or tanks used in conjunction with solar energy
• Furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, and heat pumps
• Electrical junction and circuit breaker boxes and required utility connections
• Foundation elements
• Stairways, staircases, elevators, and dumbwaiters
• Unpainted drywall walls and ceilings, including nonflammable insulation
• Cleanup

The following items are covered under contents coverage:
• Clothes washers and dryers
• Food freezers and the food in them

("Myths and Facts about the National Flood Insurance Program", FEMA, 2010)


January Flood Funny

January flood funny

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