Policy Matters! The October 2018 Edition

by | Oct 23, 2018 | ASFPM, News & Views

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.