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.


In this Issue of Welcome to the Flood Zone:

Announcement: Preliminary Flood Hazard Maps for Cumberland & York Counties in Maine have been released!
Upcoming Speaking Engagements: MBOIA Annual Conference, Portland High School, and The Beaches Conference
Education: Online degrees for Surveying and Engineering Technology
Resources: Local, Regional, and National
Flood Q&A: Flood Insurance outside of the SFHA
In the News: "Floods, Other Major Climate Events Cost U.S. $46 Billion, 138 Lives in 2016"

Jim Headshot

Message from Jim

Did you know the NFIP paid out more claims in 2005 than it had in its previous years of existence between 1968 and 2004 (NAIC, 2017), with Hurricane Katrina alone accounting for 167,992 paid losses totaling $16.3 billion? In 2012, Superstorm Sandy added another 131,111 paid losses totaling $8.5 billion. Other billion dollar storms since 2000 include Allison in 2001 ($1.1), Ivan in 2004 ($1.6), Irene in 2011 ($1.3), and the Louisiana severe storms in 2016 ($2.3) (FEMA, 2017).

In the world of probability and statistics, the term "100-year flood", which is intended to define an engineer’s calculated line for a Base Flood Elevation, is confusing and should not be used. Various agencies and consultants are working to eliminate the use of this term since it does not mean a flood of that magnitude occurs every 100 years, as it is often incorrectly assumed. As discussed in last month’s newsletter, a huge problem with flood protection is driven by personal biases created to serve and protect us, but in reality, this does much more harm than good. They impede our ability to understand proper flood risk and mitigation strategies.

Nonetheless, the Base Flood Elevation is intended to identify the extent of the 1% percent annual chance flood which water will reach or exceed. Bolding or underlying the word "exceed" in all NFIP publications would be helpful in educating consumers since the so-called "1,000-year flood" event (not every 1,000 years) is occurring more often than 1/10th of 1% annual chance. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Weather Service noted five (Louisiana, Maryland, West Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina) such rain and flooding events in just the last 19 months (NAIC, 2017).

What’s going on? The planet is in change mode, and society is slow to follow. Pick a bias, any bias, as to personal reluctance of moving slowly. The reality of a warming planet will bring much more destruction with higher sea levels and the ability for the atmosphere to retain more moisture. Heck, even King Tides, which naturally occur and are predictable, will reach much further inland and cause more destruction. Combining a coastal storm with a King Tide could cause immense devastation.

Granted, the 1% annual chance flood can be difficult to ascertain since this map line is not delineated on the ground, nor does an actual storm see this map line. Does it really matter where the 1% annual chance flood line exists on the ground or on a map when making appropriate proactive choices? Remember, this line is primarily used for minimum permitting requirements and for insuring federally backed loans, and does not have a very congruent attachment to actual risk. It was never intended to delineate a flood safety zone, so we should never accept the concept that without mandatory flood insurance, we are safe from a flood! This logic will continue to get easier to prove as we move forward. Reaching homeowners without a federally insured loan and the ones outside the Special Flood Hazard Area is vital for program success.

We've shared it before, but here it is again: A link to a PDF of The U.S. Geological Survey's infographic on the 1% Annual Chance Flood.



The Newly Revised Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Cumberland and York Counties in Maine have been released!

As of April 14, 2017, you can now view these maps on FEMA's Map Service Center. Choose the state and county you wish to view. To find the appropriate map panel, scroll down to the bottom of the list of Preliminary Products and click on the FIRM Index. Locate the area of interest on the map, note the panel ID number, then open it from the original table of Preliminary Products.

Click here for more general information on Preliminary Flood Hazard Data.


Upcoming Speaking Engagements

May 22/23 - Maine Building Officials & Inspectors Association (MBOIA) 2017 8th Annual Maine Code Conference, Sebasco Estates, Phippsburg, ME
May 25 - Portland High School, Portland, ME - Jim will speak with students about the various applications of math in land surveying.
July 14 - Maine & New Hampshire Beaches Conference, Wells High School, Wells, ME



Get Your Surveying and Engineering Technology Degree Online!

The University of Maine in Orono (UMO) is now offering a completely on-line Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Engineering and Business Degree with a Surveying Engineering track. The university is also offering nine online courses toward a B.S. in Surveying Engineering Technology.

The Fall 2017 semester starts August 28th. Contact Ray Hintz, Professor, Surveying and Engineering Technology for more information pertaining to courses, enrollment, and if you are eligible for reduced tuition. Exciting News! The University of Maine Surveying Engineering programs are coming to you!

Click the links below for more information on the programs:
Professional Science Masters in Engineering and Business
B.S. in Surveying Engineering Technology



maine water


USGS Water Resources of Maine

The U.S. Geological Survey compiled resources for each state in the country with information on rivers and streams, groundwater, water quality, and many other topics.

Since the USGS operates the most extensive satellite network of stream-gaging stations in the state, they can also provide "real-time" stream stage and flow for over 130 sites in the state, providing useful data for flood-warning systems. Check it out!

Not in Maine? Click here to choose your state!



New England Coastal Studies Fact Sheet

RiskMAP published a fact sheet describing the coastal studies being performed to more accurately determine flood risk. "Many New England coastal areas (CT, ME, MA, NH, RI) date back to the mid-to-late 1970s. Since that time, the science of coastal risk analysis and the data to support it have improved significantly. Land use and coastal development have evolved and changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) have created the need for FIRM updates to reflect more detailed and complete coastal flood hazard information." Click here to download a PDF of the Fact Sheet.



FEMA: Information for Property Owners

This FEMA web page offers resources to property owners and renters, on a wide variety of subjects--from understanding your risk, to finding an agent and even filing a claim. Check it out!


Flood Q & A

Q: Can a bank require flood insurance for a property outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) shown on the latest Flood Insurance Rate Map?

A: Yes. Any lender can require flood insurance wherever it wants, even if the property is outside the SFHA. Remember, over 20-percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas outside of mapped high-risk flood zones.

Note: If during the life of the loan the maps are revised and the property is now in the high-risk area, your lender will notify you that you must purchase flood insurance.


In the News

Floods, Other Major Climate Events Cost U.S. $46 Billion, 138 Lives in 2016

The Insurance Journal, January 10, 2017

"During 2016, the United States experienced 15 weather and climate disasters with insured and uninsured losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States...including a drought, four floods, eight severe storms, a tropical cyclone and a wildfire."

This article outlines a disturbing trend: extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and expensive, and records are continuing to be broken. Read more!


May Flood Funny

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