Many Massachusetts homeowners have experienced rate shock over flood insurance with the release of the new FEMA maps. These changes to the FEMA flood maps have caused some residents and businesses to see a dramatic jump in flood insurance premiums, while in other cases, some properties which formerly were not mapped in a flood zone have now since been included. However, there is new evidence which supports that the new FEMA flood maps may not be fair or accurate.
Members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation recently requested a delay in the implementation of new flood maps for Massachusetts. The basis for this request is a scientific argument that the new maps do not appropriately reflect our geographic region. UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and Applied Coastal Research and Engineering were recently commissioned to review the FEMA maps. The research indicated that FEMA applied inappropriate methodology for the Massachusetts area because the methodology employed is the Pacific Coast Model. Flooding on the Pacific Coastline originates from the continuous nature of the waves. In Massachusetts, however, on the Atlantic Coastline of New England, flooding more often is the result of storm surge. These findings could also reveal that some properties may have unnecessarily been added to the flood maps.
This is the first time that we are seeing scientific evidence that the entire state of Massachusetts is being subject to insurance increases based on maps that are designed for the opposite coastline. Homeowners purchase flood insurance to prevent the loss of their homes in the event of a flood, instead some residents now fear that the increase in premium may be just as devastating as any storm. And many residents and business owners are faced with thousands of dollars in increases in their flood insurance premium. The scientific argument made questions if this is even fair given that theses new FEMA maps are not tailored to our specific area.
Massachusetts delegates sent an open letter, addressed to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on December 13, 2013, requesting a delay in the implementation of Massachusett’s new flood maps until they are amended to appropriately reflect our geographic region. Such a delay would hold off the insurance premium increases as well. Hopefully, FEMA will consider the information contained in this new report and work to ensure that Massachusetts has flood maps which are both fair and accurate. After all, it is fundamental to have accuracy in our flood maps prior to implementing them.
For information on how to find your flood map visit: https://msc.fema.gov/
For the flood map update schedule visit: http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/map_update_schedule.jsp
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