New Flood Maps from FEMA

The New Flood Maps….what do they bring to our future?

Written by Dorothes Poggi

What will happen to the homes unable to afford the new increases to Flood insurance? Will portions of our residential waterfront communities be forced into rezoning for industry that can afford the insurance? Will our areas revert back to the salt water marshes that many of them were before they were filled in for development? There are no answers at this time, we will only know as the communities try to deal with this new flood map.

Before Hurricane Sandy, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was in the process of redrawing outdated flood maps that define high-risk areas and increasing its premiums, in order to reflect the full risk of flood damage to structures within the floodplain. The new maps, released in June 2013, reveal an expanded floodplain in New York City that includes twice as many structures in the high-risk zones; there are now about 68,000 structures in the floodplain, with 32,000 buildings added under the new maps. When these maps are adopted, nearly double the number of properties will be required to purchase flood insurance. The new flood maps also increases the height flood waters will likely reach in the 100-year flood (a flood with 1-percent chance of occurring in any year) by an average of 2 feet, with increases of 4 feet and more in some areas. Additional reforms will phase-out rates that have been subsidized since Congress established the federal program in 1968.

As a result, many coastal residents may be unable to afford the sharp increases in premiums that will be phased in over the next few years. The National Flood Insurance Program is the primary source of flood insurance for homeowners and smaller residential properties and businesses; larger businesses typically buy flood insurance in the private market, although they may also buy a National Flood Insurance policy to cover the first layer of loss.

Due to City advocacy the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already agreed to offer premium reductions for homeowners that elevate their boilers and other mechanical systems in their home. New York City will continue to advocate for a variety of other mitigation measures identified in the study released today and detailed in “A Stronger, More Resilient New York.” These measures include:

· Mitigation financing that provide resources for homeowners to reduce risks and        premiums
· Low-cost, high-deductible policies for lower-income homeowners not subject to mandatory purchase requirement
· Premium reductions for homeowners that invest in resiliency measures other than elevating their entire house such as structural reinforcement.

The study’s initial results provides background data on flood insurance for the City’s recent report, “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” which was released in June 2013. The research was conducted within the RAND Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and Compensation, part of the RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment research division of the RAND Corporation.

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