The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently released a comprehensive infographic on flood maps and the process of mapping communities for flood risk. It gives a basic understanding with fair warning: The process for developing and updating flood maps is a long one… [Mapping] Projects typically take from 3-5 years to complete, but sometimes they can take longer. This is one of the factors at the core of flood insurance reform, leaving the state of map affairs, according to an independent investigative news organization, blurry at best.
…The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has flood-risk maps of questionable accuracy for many U.S. counties and lacks maps altogether for some.
This has left property owners in a dangerous state of uncertainty. FEMA’s maps govern whether home and business owners are required to buy flood insurance. They also guide communities’ decisions on where they should — and shouldn’t — allow development.
There’s still much work to be done to update the nation’s flood maps. Some parts of the country still use flood maps drawn in the 1970s, shortly after the flood insurance program’s inception. In other cases, paper maps from the ’70s and ’80s have been digitized but not improved using modern technology for measuring topography and modeling storm surge.
Flood maps provide broad-brush strokes to determine whether properties are at low to moderate or high risk of flooding. They depict geographical areas, not individual structures and do not take into consideration structures built above the community’s base flood elevation to mitigate flooding. Flood maps, along with elevation certificates, provide the basis of establishing the cost of flood insurance. That is reason enough for all property owners, managers and representatives – commercial and residential alike – to be aware of community flood map changes and to review elevation certificates for errors and omissions.
Read the original article, Sharpening the Government’s Blurry Maps, at ProPublica.com and let us know what you think.