USA: Not trusting FEMA’s flood maps, more hurricane-hit cities set their own rules

Inside Climate News

By James Bruggers

In flood-prone regions of the country, a growing number of cities have lost confidence in the ability of the federal government's flood maps to recognize the increasing risks that come with global warming.


On Monday, FEMA announced it was rolling out a new risk-rating system to determine insurance premiums that will use more risk factors to calculate insurance costs for each property. But it still only requires flood insurance for homes in the 100-year floodplain.

Some communities, like Mexico Beach, join a lot of experts in saying those FEMA flood maps are misleading and downplay overall flood risk.


Mexico Beach's new floodplain regulations are part of a shift, floodplain experts said. Houston made similar changes in the aftermath of catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. So did Baltimore after multiple floods, including Hurricane Isabel, which made more than 570 homes and 15 businesses uninhabitable because of flooding.

"The (FEMA) maps are based on historical data and in many cases are old and outdated, so communities are seeing flood impacts that are going well beyond the areas that FEMA regulates," said attorney Jessica Grannis, the adaptation program director at the Georgetown Climate Center in Washington, D.C.


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