Tagged: Floods

(Click to enlarge) D.C. streets during the snowstorm.

Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

When a snowstorm closed airports across the northeast last week, two congressmen stranded in Texas devised a creative travel scheme, opting for a cross-country road trip to D.C. instead of waiting for airports to reopen. While their adventure received significant attention, the subject of natural disasters was also receiving attention in several congressional hearings. In the House and Senate, hearings focused specifically on flood insurance, and members of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing to discuss the future of the National Preparedness System (NPS).

(Click to enlarge) (Photo credit: Allison Hays)

FEMA Flood Insurance Program Underwater

Ninety percent of natural disasters in the United States involve a flood. Want to check if your home’s location is in a high-risk flood zone? Thanks to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can. NFIP, which is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), identifies and maps flood risks, provides flood insurance for 5.1 million policyholders, and runs programs to incentivize flood risk reduction.

Hurricane Rita in 2005 was a category 5. (Credit: Wikimedia)

Shelter From The Storm

With a dramatic reversal of environmental concerns on the West Coast from drought to flooding this winter, members of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee held a timely hearing to discuss flood insurance reform, specifically the reauthorization and reformation of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is due for reauthorization this fall. Flooding is the most frequent and expensive disaster in the U.S., and a delay in reauthorizing NFIP could disrupt property sales in high-risk areas where flood insurance is required.

FEMA's Technical Mapping Advisory Council makes recommendations on flood maps. (Credit: Walter Jennings/Wikipedia)

Outdated Flood Maps Fuel Reform

When the 1,000-year-flood event hit south Louisiana last month, an estimated 60,000 structures were damaged, including those both inside and outside of the flood zone. In a hearing last week, Representative John Mica (FL-07) noted that 80 percent of homeowners did not have flood insurance because, based on maps produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), they were not in areas that were considered vulnerable to flooding. These floodmaps are in urgent need of updating and were the focus of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing to review the recommendations of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council’s (TMAC) 2015 Annual Report for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

A USACE project site, the Florida Everglades. (Credit: Hans Stieglitz/Wikipedia)

New Water Resource Projects For Inclusion In WRDA Bill

Strolling down a beach with sand dunes on one side and the ocean on the other or navigating your motorboat through a harbor probably don’t make you think of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). However, USACE’s many duties include designing and carrying out projects for ecosystem restoration, flood control, and coastal navigation, making it the biggest water resources development and management agency in the federal government.

El Niño is the formation of warmer-than-usual ocean waters in the equatorial Pacific, with extensive temperature changes along the coast of South America during the month of December -- hence the Spanish name "El Niño," the Christmas child. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

When Sea Levels Rise, Damage Costs Rise Even Faster

Damages from extreme events like floods are even more relevant than the mean sea level itself when it comes to the costs of climate impacts for coastal regions. However, while it is now rather well understood how sea-levels will rise in the future, only small progress has been made estimating how the implied damage for cities at the coasts will increase during the next decades.