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

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A resource for those interested in flood zone issues, land surveying, real estate, history, educational opportunities, and local events.

Important Announcement!

The updated version of FEMA's Elevation Certificate is now available online. The expiration date on the new certificate is July 31, 2015. FEMA will permit a "phase-in" of the revised EC on a voluntary basis. The old form will be accepted for a 12-month transition period which began August 1, 2012. The new certificate can be downloaded and printed from FEMA's website using the link above.

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Message from Jim

Unfortunately, it has happened and will again in the future. I am speaking of Sandy, the huge storm which directly or indirectly will affect all American taxpayers. Twenty of the thirty most expensive catastrophes from 1970-2011 have occurred between 2001-2011, and 13 of those were in the United States (Michel-Kerjan). This is perhaps due to the cost of American homes and the desire to reside in or near high risk areas. With rising sea level and climate change, awareness of flood risk and protection needs priority.

Aside from dealing with personal property losses, recovering from flood damage becomes more difficult when considering those without adequate flood insurance, the cost of rebuilding to NFIP compliance requirements, and the increase of premiums due to the pay-out of many claims.

When constructing a new home, rebuilding in accordance to substantial damage requirements, or simply renovating, one cannot overlook the need to minimize flood risk for the protection of life, personal assets, and natural resources. Within the Special Flood Hazard Area, many will find that homeowners insurance does not provide flood damage coverage, and that flood insurance does not cover all improvements. Coverage is limited to policy specifics. For example, many items or improvements made in a basement are not insured through the NFIP.

It can get much worse for homeowners not required to purchase mandatory flood insurance in non-Special Flood Hazard Areas (C or X Flood Zones). Since homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage and they are without flood insurance, a homeowner can lose everything. Names such as Katrina, Isaac, Irene, and Sandy have made this potential tragedy a reality for too many citizens. This situation results in an increase in foreclosures, much hardship, and an eventual increase in insurance premiums for all applicants of the program, regardless if directly impacted by such severe storms. Additionally, due to the overall financial loss, tax increases should also be expected. Low or middle class income homeowners may simply not be able to afford coastal living.

Although the last two mentioned storms missed us in Maine, be aware that insurance executives and actuaries are crunching numbers for the adjustment of premiums because flood damage will continue to occue. The NFIP is a national program and each storm or claim has impact across the country, from land values to affordability of real estate along water bodies.

Since Vermont is a mountainous state with no coastal frontage, many Vermont citizens did not carry flood insurance to cover the excessive damage caused by Irene. Storm surge and wave action are not the only methods of storm damage. Excessive rain fills watersheds, rivers, streams, brooks, and can cause many types of damage inland. Even a state hundreds to thousands of feet above sea level can be impacted by ocean storms. Per FEMA, 25% of all flood damage occurs outside the Special Flood Hazard Area and approximately 90% of all disaster-related property damage results from flooding.

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Surveying Funny

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Speaking Engagements

Jim will be presenting his "Understanding Land Surveying and Flood Zones" class again!

This course is offered for 3-hours Continuing Education credit for Realtors, but participation is welcome to anyone who may benefit from the information. To learn more and sign up for the class, visit The Real Estate Learning Group's website.

Save the date! January 22, 2013, 9 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. with The Real Estate Learning Group, at Husson University in South Portland

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Jim speaking at the IAAO Conference

Thank you!

We would like to thank the Maine Chapter of IAAO for inviting us to speak at their Assessing Officers' meeting in November. It was a great experience and we look forward to future opportunities to work with you!

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Notes from FEMA regarding disaster assistance

Applying for disaster assistance can be an arduous process, especially for those who have suffered extreme damage to their property. FEMA wants to help, and we want to share their information to help enhance recovery efforts. Here are news releases they have published to help people through some confusion and make sure they're not taken advantage of.

The Letter from FEMA is the starting point. If you've applied for assistance and received a letter from FEMA stating you are ineligible, read it carefully. It could be a matter of just providing them with more information, missing signatures on your documents, or proof of denial from your insurance company.
Disaster Aid does not affect Social Security or Medicare benefits. Assistance from FEMA or from any charitable donations or grants does not count as income, so there will not be additional income taxes.
The FEMA Housing Portal can be used to locate rentals for those who have been displaced by disasters.
Myth vs. Fact about registering for assistance. Good to know!
Beware of Scammers! Bogus building contractors and other con artists are angling to access recovery funds.

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In the News

Post-Storm Cost May Force Many From Coast Life

David M. Halbfinger, The New York Times Nov. 28, 2012
"The higher premiums, coupled with expensive requirements for homes being rebuilt within newly mapped flood hazard zones, which will take into account the storm's vast reach, pose a serious threat to middle-class and lower-income enclaves."
Read More.

Sandy Victim Faces Insurance Nightmare

Les Christie, CNN Money. Nov. 12, 2012
"A big part of the problem for Bediner and other victims of Superstorm Sandy is that NFIP's flood insurance does not cover any upgrades done to basements. Any finished walls, floors and ceilings or personal belongings that get destroyed while in a basement won't be covered".
A lesson in how it helps to know exactly what parts of your property are covered under homeowners and flood insurance, and how being prepared for the unexpected can save you from total devastation. Read More.

Foreclosure Mess Awaits States Hit by Superstorm Sandy

Les Christie, CNN Money. Nov. 16, 2012.
Lenders have already been working through a heavy backlog of foreclosures in the areas hit worst by Sandy. "More properties will likely fall into foreclosure as some storm victims choose to walk away from their homes rather than rebuild." Read More.

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