In his post, Congress Tries (Again) To Sustain The National Flood Insurance Program, Jim McCay, takes an in-depth look at the road to the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and detour to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2013. He also, quite accurately, covers a major factor at the intersection of NFIP reform: the accuracy of floodplain maps. Here are a few highlights, including a profile of one state using the new technology of LiDAR to improve the accuracy of flood risk for individual property owners.
He [Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers] said that with today’s standards and technology, you can map a given area for $10,000 or $100,000 and buy a more precise map. For instance, lidar adds cost to the process but makes for a more precise map. “It doesn’t mean that something cheaper will get you a bad map, but if you want to go down to a very specific parcel level, you have to invest more money to get that better granularity.”
He said FEMA and states have to decide what level of precision they can afford. “And so what we’re faced with nationally is a flood mapping program that is chronically underfunded, and it’s our biggest hazard.”
When North Carolina set out to update its flood maps in 2000, it found that more than half of the maps (55 percent) were at least 10 years old and 75 percent were at least 5 years old. The state wanted to make sure the new maps were accurate for both floodplain management purposes and for flood insurance rates and thus chose to do its own mapping, according to John Dorman, program director for the state’s Floodplain Mapping Program.
“At the time, FEMA would not have done lidar. They would have used the existing elevation data,” Dorman said. “Lidar was new at the time, and FEMA is typically behind on new innovations.
The new data offers a more in-depth look at risk and what the damages would be for different flood risk frequencies.
Berginnis suggested that instead of putting money away for future claims, why not collect the money and use it for mitigation to avoid future claims. “Congress is doing nothing about mitigation,” he said. “You can elevate homes and businesses; you can flood-proof them to lower costs and reduce rates.”
This story matters to both residential and commercial property owners alike and underscores the importance of being proactive about flood risk. If you own, manage or represent property subject to flood insurance requirements, be diligent about flood risk:
- Stay informed of flood insurance rate map changes in your area.
- Contact your legislative representatives and tell them unequal treatment of property owners is unacceptable.
- Conduct a flood risk evaluation, a proactive strategy to mitigate flood risk, protect the real estate investment and verify whether the structure is built to minimize the risk of flooding.
Contact AmeriFlood Solutions for more information including a complimentary flood risk evaluation performed by an expert team of flood risk professionals.