Here is a helpful update on our FEMA flood map battles courtesy of our federal congressional delegation. Special thanks to Congressman Bill Keating for his work on this issue.
Residents up and down the coast of Massachusetts have seen marked increases in their rates and many residents formerly not mapped into a flood zone have since been included. In response, Congressman Keating, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, requested an independent review of the maps by a scientist and engineer affiliated with UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, respectively. The review was conducted by Dr. Brian Howes and Mr. John Ramsey and specifically used the Town of Marshfield as a test case.
Their findings, detailed in a White Paper, indicated that FEMA applied an inappropriate methodology for our region when establishing the new flood zone maps. The methodology employed used the Pacific Coast model, which does not truly reflect flooding found on the Atlantic Coastline in New England. Flooding on the Pacific Coastline originates from the continuous nature of the waves. On the other hand, flooding on the Atlantic Coast is most often the result of storms and surges.
“It is fundamental to community safety and insurance fairness to have accurate flood maps,” said Senator Ed Markey. “FEMA should not finalize maps based on faulty science. These flood maps have huge economic repercussions for Massachusetts communities, so they must be accurate.”
“Many residents and businesses are facing thousands of dollars in flood insurance premiums when the Commonwealth’s new maps are not even tailored to our area,” said Congressman Keating. “While my colleagues and I have been addressing the issue of affordability for months, this is the first time we have scientific evidence that the entire state is being subjected to maps designed for the opposite coast. The only thing to do is delay implementation. FEMA needs to reevaluate our maps in light of this new information.”
“Families purchase flood insurance to prevent the loss of their homes, but now many families fear that the price of flood insurance could be just as devastating as any storm,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “You can’t protect someone’s home by pricing them out of it, yet that’s exactly what’s taking place around the country. We need to give the government the time it needs to make sure that FEMA’s new maps are accurate, reliable and reflect the best available scientific data, and we need to make sure that hardworking families who play by the rules can afford these policies.”
“Following the recent redrawing of flood maps, thousands of local homeowners and businesses have been understandably concerned when they learned their flood insurance costs would be rising. While we were aware of clear shortfalls of the new maps, the recent review conducted by UMass Dartmouth has uncovered more evidence to call them into question. I join Rep. Keating and my other Massachusetts colleagues in continuing to push for a delay of these unreasonable premium rates until we can address the scientific and affordability concerns that have arisen from the new flood maps,” said Congressman John Tierney.
“I have attended community meetings and rallies in my district where a chorus of affected homeowners have asserted that FEMA’s flood maps are inaccurate and draw far too many people into flood zones,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. “Now, we have scientific proof that these homeowners are right. I join my colleagues in calling on FEMA to halt their flood mapping process until Massachusetts homeowners can trust that FEMA’s flood maps are accurate. There is too much at stake to allow these inaccurate maps to go forward.”
“As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, and with several major rivers and waterways crisscrossing the Third District, I have long been an advocate for not only preserving these natural resources but also supporting those who live and work around them. I have heard from concerned residents in the region and I urge action to help maintain affordable flood insurance,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas.
“Our Commonwealth has seen a dramatic jump in flood insurance premiums at a time when residents and businesses are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Congressman Joseph Kennedy. “It is our hope FEMA will consider the information contained in this new report and work with us to ensure Massachusetts has flood maps that are both fair and accurate.