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: "Rethinking Minimum NFIP Requirements to Sustain Cooperative Federalism" and "FEMA Phases Out Use of DVD Media for Community Flood Map Panels"
Resources: "Resource Watch", "Improving the Communication of Flood Risk for Better Decision-Making", and "FEMA Flood Insurance Manual - Effective October 1, 2020"
Climate Corner: "New Climate Warnings in Old Permafrost: 'It’s a Little Scary Because it’s Happening Under Our Feet.'" and "COVID-19, Resiliency, Climate, and the Environment in the News"
Flood Terminology: Hazard vs. Risk
Real Estate Corner: "Living In Harm's Way: Why Most Flood Risk Is Not Disclosed"
Banner Image: Image from "These American Cities Will Soon Be Under Water" (CHKnox / Getty Images, June 18, 2019)


Message from Jim

Since our first publication of "Welcome to the Flood Zone" in April 2011, we have shared many articles and resources pertaining to the three components of the National Flood Insurance Program: mapping, insurance, and regulation. As the program continues to implement mitigation as a fourth component, we thought it was an appropriate time to also become more diverse.

Starting with this issue, Nadeau Land Surveys and Maine Coast Surveying & Flood Consultants are pleased to announce that we will have a new section of our newsletter called “Climate Corner”. Flood impact is a by-product of our changing climate, so sharing more about this worldwide dilemma is extremely important.

We are very fortunate to call Maine our home, and we are proud that our wonderful state has taken a national lead on addressing climate change. In case you do not know, on June 26, 2019, Governor Mills and the Maine Legislature created the Maine Climate Council, an assembly of scientists, industry leaders, bipartisan local and state officials, and engaged citizens working to address the impacts of climate change on our state.

This council is supported by a Scientific and Technical Subcommittee and the following six working groups:

· Building, Infrastructure and Housing
· Transportation
· Energy
· Community Resilience, Public Health, and Emergency Management
· Coastal and Marine
· Natural and Working Lands

The knowledge and ideas being shared by the council will be very beneficial to our many out-of-state followers. Much needs to be done to adjust our behavior and personal choices in regards to our changing climate. It is our sincere hope that "Climate Corner" will help with this process.


In the News

Rethinking Minimum NFIP Requirements to Sustain Cooperative Federalism

By Phetmano Phannavong, SNC Lavalin, September 16, 2020

The NFIP is an example of cooperative federalism, where the federal government provides affordable flood insurance to homeowners, business owners and renters; in return, communities agree to adopt and enforce floodplain regulations, also known as “minimum NFIP requirements.”

This article describes why NFIP requirements are difficult to enforce, and how the program can be improved by: incorporating land use planning requirements to localize flood risk management; considering multiple flood hazards to manage flood risks at the structure level; and providing flexible and workable options to enhance cooperation among state and local governments.

Check it out!

FEMA Phases Out Use of DVD Media for Community Flood Map Panels

FEMA is updating its process for distribution of final mapping products for Community Officials to keep up with changing technology. Previously, FEMA provided a DVD with copies of the hardcopy map panels and the digital flood hazard data for affected Community Officials. Use of DVD media and support for DVDs on newer computers are no longer standard.

Beginning immediately, FEMA is discontinuing the production and distribution of DVDs. Community Officials will continue to receive hardcopy products by mail. FEMA recently suspended new final determinations, so initially this change will affect only the distribution of products where the final determination was issued earlier, but the paper maps and DVDs have not yet been distributed. When final determinations resume, this change will remain in effect.

Click here to access flood mapping products through FEMA's Flood Map Service Center




Resource Watch

Resource Watch is a dynamic platform that provides trusted and timely data for a sustainable future. Resource Watch features hundreds of data sets all in one place on the state of the planet’s resources and citizens. Users can visualize challenges facing people and the planet, from climate change to poverty, water risk to state instability, air pollution to human migration, and more.

Learn more!


Click on the image to check out the study, featured in "Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society"

Improving the Communication of Flood Risk for Better Decision-Making

Communicating flood risk effectively is the key to reducing damage and protecting life safety; it's also one of the largest challenges being faced by a number of organizations and agencies helping to prepare people for the impacts of extreme weather. A study was performed to assess the effectiveness of the National Weather Service's (NWS) flood forecasts, and its findings revealed the tools and thought processes people use to make decisions about their safety, in response to floods. The study also suggests ways NWS can adapt its flood products and messages to motivate people to take action.

Learn more!


FEMA Flood Insurance Manual - Effective October 1, 2020

FEMA’s regular updates to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Manual reflect an ongoing effort to enhance the customer experience and evolve the NFIP into a world-class organization. FEMA has revised the document to incorporate NFIP program changes announced October 1, 2019, address stakeholder feedback, and clarify existing guidance.

Red text on the amended pages identifies updated information and all footers, except Appendix F, reflect the April 1, 2020 effective date. The October 2020 update revises the April 2020 NFIP Flood Insurance Manual-Appendix F and has an effective date of October 1, 2020. It deletes the April 2020 list of Community Rating System communities and inserts a link to the updated October 2020 list of all CRS community statuses that will become effective on October 1, 2020.

Click here to download a PDF of the full manual.


Melting permafrost cliffs near Zyryanka, Russia are crumbling into the Kolyma River, unleashing tons of organic soil sediments that can release CO2 and methane to the atmosphere. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Climate Corner

New Climate Warnings in Old Permafrost: 'It’s a Little Scary Because it’s Happening Under Our Feet.'

By Bob Berwyn, InsideClimate News October 16, 2020

A new study shows a few degrees of warming can trigger abrupt thaws of vast frozen lands, releasing huge stores of greenhouse gases and collapsing landscapes.

Along with increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thawing permafrost also has immediate effects on people living in the Arctic. Indigenous communities have been hardest hit; when frozen ground slumps and caves in, infrastructure they depend on fails. Roads collapse and power lines fall.

Read more!

COVID-19, Resiliency, Climate, and the Environment in the News

By Clara Steyer, Sustainability, Washington University in St. Louis, April 20, 2020

The dramatic and rapid changes in behaviors of individuals, organizations, and systems at all scales induced by the COVID-19 pandemic affect our environment, climate, and ecosystems.

What does our reaction to the pandemic say about our ability to tackle climate change? How does social distancing impact greenhouse gas emissions? Has COVID-19 helped ease air pollution? How have landscapes and biodiversity evolved since February? Is climate change multiplying the global health threats posed by novel coronavirus? What lessons are we learning today about urgent mobilization for the greater good that can be applied to a similar challenge (climate change) that is on a longer timeline?

This article provides links to media publications covering these complex topics.

Check it out!


Flood Terminology

Hazard vs. Risk

The terms hazard and risk are often used interchangeably, though the differences are quite significant.

A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm, such as flood waters. Risk is the likelihood or probability that the hazard actually causes harm.

A risk assessment takes a known hazard and evaluates its impact in real world situations. A flood risk assessment would involve using modeling software to predict the likelihood of flooding in a particular area based on different variables, such as proximity to a water source, or topography of the land.

for sale

Real Estate Corner

Living In Harm's Way: Why Most Flood Risk Is Not Disclosed

By Rebecca Hersher, NPR, October 20, 2020

Ballooning, climate-driven flood damage in the U.S. in recent years has led some states to consider new flood risk disclosure requirements for real estate transactions.

Many homeowners, elected officials and real estate agents worry that disclosing flood risk could undermine property values or lead to prohibitively high flood insurance premiums.

Miyuki Hino, an assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studies price impacts of hazard disclosure and says she understands why elected officials might be nervous about requiring flood risk disclosure.

"There's a side of you that doesn't want to take the risk of devaluing any properties," Hino says, "and therefore [thinks], 'Let's just leave everything the way it is.'"

But she warns that disclosing flood risk is likely better for both buyers and sellers than hiding it or hoping it will go away. Keeping flood risk secret allows more and more people to move into harm's way without understanding the financial implications, and it contributes to what Hino describes as a potential flood risk housing bubble.

Read more!


November Flood Funny


Image by Marshall Ramsey

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