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NFIP and FEMA Flood Map Information

PLEASE NOTE: To read updates on Congressional and other action taken on this issue, see the media coverage page and/or the GNO Inc. Flood Insurance site.

President Obama recently signed into law the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which undoes many of the devastating effects of the Biggert-Waters Act. St. Charles Parish is urging all residents to review their current policies and/or purchase flood insurance to take advantage of grandfathering provisions. Click here for an informational flier.


Overview
The community of southern Louisiana supports a sustainable, fiscally responsible National Flood Insurance Program that protects the businesses and homeowners who built according to code and have followed all applicable laws. Changes made in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 had threatened to harm the very citizens the program was designed to protect.

Proposed changes to base flood elevations and flood zones contained in proposed FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), along with the previous changes to the NFIP, had created conditions in which flood insurance rates would increase to actuarial costs over a period of five years after map adoption. The West Bank of St. Charles Parish would have be severely affected, with some flood policies reaching outrageous and unaffordable prices due to the combined impact of these changes.

Many properties were being remapped into flood zones for the first time. FEMA would no longer recognize existing, functional levees and other flood control features and presented maps that assumed these features do not exist. Biggert-Waters had effectively removes grandfathering of flood policies for properties built post-May 1983, meaning that homeowners will be paying these increased premiums regardless of the fact they built to elevation standards in effect at the time of construction.


The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act
On March 21, 2014, President Obama signed the HFIAA into law. This law repeals and modifies certain provisions of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, and makes additional program changes to other aspects of the program not covered by that Act. For more details on the HFIAA, click here.


Levee Analysis and Mapping Procedure
FEMA has been engaged in a comprehensive review of its National Flood Insurance Program to identify reforms that will enable it to better address flood risks. A part of that review has included working with members of Congress and other stakeholders regarding FEMA's approach to mapping flood hazards with respect to non-accredited levees. FEMA recognizes that levee systems that do not fully meet the requirements for accreditation may still provide a measure of flood risk reduction.

As a result, FEMA is introducing a new approach of targeted modeling procedures to replace the previous “without levee” approach that did not recognize a non-accredited levee as providing any level of protection to communities behind the levees during the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood. These procedures better characterize actual conditions that a community may encounter when addressing non-accredited levees or levee systems.

FEMA devised this new approach by leading a multidisciplinary project team comprised of representatives from FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and experts from the academic and engineering communities to evaluate technical options for non-accredited levees. The FEMA-led team explored a broad spectrum of levee analysis and mapping procedures. Based on the results of the development, testing, review and public comment effort, FEMA created and is implementing a levee analysis and mapping approach that is flexible and will produce more precise flood hazard maps and supporting data where levee systems are involved.

The final approach is outlined further in this document.

FEMA will use these new procedures to produce Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), Flood Insurance Study reports, and related products for communities and Tribes impacted by non-accredited levee systems. A core goal of the new procedures includes identifying more precisely the flood hazard associated with levee systems and reflecting the results in the mapping. An important outcome of the effort is also increasing the credibility of FIRMs where non-accredited levee systems exist.

The new approach, accompanied by operating guidance, has been applied to a limited number of projects (approximately 25, including St. Charles Parish levee systems) during Fiscal Year 2013, and other future mapping projects will be prioritized as the projects are completed and additional funding is available.

FEMA Regional Offices will be in contact with communities to initially identify participants for a discussion about their local levee system and to facilitate a Local Levee Partnership Team as needed. This team will be comprised of FEMA and community representatives to provide input and guide the implementation of the approach.

Last updated: 7/19/2014 8:18:07 PM