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Association of State Flood Plain Managers

Association of State Flood Plain Managers Association of State Flood Plain Managers
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Policy Matters! The October 2018 Edition
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Flood Map Coalition Revived

ASFPM and the National Association of Realtors organized a meeting in Washington D.C. to discuss bringing back the former Flood Map Coalition. The group agreed that due to challenges to future mapping priorities, and to securing adequate funding, the Flood Map Coalition should be revived.

The original map coalition, in existence from roughly 2002-2013, was instrumental in securing a 5-year commitment to provide $1 billion in appropriated funding to be used, in addition to flood insurance policy fees, to modernize and update flood maps. FEMA's Map Modernization program lasted from 2003-2008. With many remaining unmet mapping needs, FEMA continued its mapping efforts under RiskMAP (Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning). The Biggert-Waters flood insurance reform legislation in 2012 codified FEMA’s Mapping Program for the first time, and laid out a number of new and expanded mapping tasks designed to produce more accurate risk information. In 2013, due to congressional interest, ASFPM produced a study, "Flood Mapping for the Nation," that analyzed mapping needs and projected costs (ASFPM is in the process of updating that study).

The NFIP has mapped about 1.3 million miles of floodplains out of the 3.5 million miles in the U.S. There is a need to educate many decision makers who seem to think flood maps are no longer needed if private companies take over selling flood insurance and spread their risk using insurance approaches. Those are typically decision makers who think the NFIP is only a flood insurance program, forgetting about the other three legs of the program: regulating new and rebuilt development, identifying flood risk areas and mitigating flood risk.

NAR hosted the coalition meeting (thanks to Austin Perez) at its D.C. headquarters Oct. 18, where about 20 different organizations (involving engineers, state emergency managers, reinsurance, insurance and banker industries and nonprofits) participated to express their support for updated and accurate flood maps. 

Flood maps are used by local, state, tribal and federal, as well as private sector floodplain managers for response, planning, recovery, regulation and mitigation, as well as evacuations and emergency rescues. In addition, real estate and insurance agents, lenders and investors need accurate maps to make good decisions and help homeowners. The most effective tool for reducing flood risk is guiding new development to less at-risk areas and building in a more flood-resilient way. To do that, communities must have up-to-date and accurate flood maps.

Because flood risk is increasing by intensified rainfall, sea level rise and ever increasing development, the need to update the maps and to incorporate future conditions is critical. Getting the maps in place ahead of development prevents new development in high-risk flood areas. Without those maps, we will continue to see unaffordable flood insurance premiums, and possible abandoning of homes because homeowners can't sell in such risky areas. These issues and others, like the importance of LiDAR mapping through the digital elevation program at USGS, were also discussed.

Going forward, the coalition will meet regularly as a group, and with FEMA flood mapping staff and others, to explore and support the need for accurate, updated maps throughout the nation. We will keep our members and chapters posted on these discussions and decisions about flood map funding and development.

Photo above by JB Byrd.






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