FEMA Issues New Post-Sandy Flood Maps

Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Blog, Coastal Development, Coastal Resilience | 0 comments

FDR Drive, Lower Manhattan, Hurricane Sandy. Photo by  Christopher Schoenbohm, creative commons license via flickrIn a move that will essentially double the number of structures listed in a flood zone in New York City, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has re-drawn flood zone maps based on the flooding that occurred in the Superstorm Sandy three months ago.  Some 35,000 structures that were not in flood zones before, are now included.  The previous maps date back to the 1980s.

The just-released maps describe new flood zones for some of the harder-hit communities in New York — with more of the city to be remapped in the next several months. Although merely a draft — the maps will take approximately two years to finalize — they will be a guide to homeowners and developers looking to understand the new normal. Structures in the newly mapped flood zones may be subject to additional flood control regulations, much higher flood insurance premiums, and additional building code requirements.

Notably, however, FEMA says the new maps do not take into account climate change or any additional potential sea level rise — the new maps are based solely on current, not future, conditions.  As David Roberts at Grist puts it:

Within a decade, then, even FEMA’s new maps will be out-of-date. Sea level rise is happening faster than anticipated, and New York Harbor is witnessing that directly. If FEMA waits another 30 years to update the maps, the harbor could be almost four inches higher than it is today.

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