Flood Insurance (3): are the new maps accurate?

As Congress continues to bicker over reforming the Biggert-Waters Act (this week one Republican Senator blocked the unanimous consent required to move forward one Bill delaying the implementation of the new rates) a concern has been raised about the accuracy of the new maps for Massachusetts.

Independent coastal experts say the federal government used outdated wave methodology better fit for the Pacific coast when they drafted the new flood maps. As a result, they say, the government over-predicted flooding that would occur during a 100-year storm for much of the state.

According to this Patriot Ledger article Experts say FEMA cut corners on flood map methodology, the engineering experts claim that FEMA “used a mapping method fit for the Pacific coast, where the wave periods are much longer and the beaches are straighter, instead of developing a correct approach for New England.”

One of the experts said it’s hard to draw a broad conclusion on how the maps would change with numerical modeling, but he said
areas where the coastal geography changes frequently would likely see a reduction in the width of high-velocity flood zones and the height of waves. “Fewer houses would fall into the flood zone,” he said.

Logic suggests that there are so many inconsistencies and uncertainties in the new legislation that Congress should delay its implementation until these are resolved.

If you are considering buying or selling a home and have questions about the market and/or current home prices, feel free to contact me on 781.631.1223 or andrew@HarborsideRealty.com.

Andrew Oliver is a Realtor with Harborside Realty in Marblehead.

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