Go ahead, build on the lip of the shoreline, but don’t expect the feds to loan you any money for the project. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has proposed rules that would require homeowners and commercial construction companies that want federal funding to build on higher ground.
With Tropical Hermine bearing down on North Carolina, the State of Emergency declared for 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. It’s in these areas where the FEMA map changes will be of greatest interest and where you could expect resistance from the real estate/ construction industries.
FEMA has an interactive map that shows flood-prone areas, designated AE and VE.
FEMA is telling builders who want federal funds to build 2 feet above the 100-year floodplain for homes and commercial structures. However, nursing homes, hospitals and schools would have to be built 3 feet above that mark. A better idea? The 500-year flood plain.
There were already restrictions on federal funding for certain projects in flood zones, but these rules move the boundaries to account for the effects of climate change in low-lying areas, including storm surge, flooding and sea-level rise.
However, it’s important to note that the terminology “100-year flood” means that a flood statistically has a 1 percent chance of happening in a given year — not that the flood will occur only once in a 100 years.
The U.S. Geological Service points out that just because it rains 10 inches today doesn’t mean it can’t happen again within the next year. And if it rains 10 inches during a dry period, the flooding could be less severe than if the soil is already saturated.
And as floods occur, they change the landscape, carving new tributaries and inlets that in turn, change the flood plains. That’s why we need new flood maps and new rules on where it’s sane to build.