Monday, July 20, 2015

FEMA 4-day Course: Introductory Floodplain Management Class to be Offered in Portsmouth, NH 9/28-10/1/2015

ASFPM is co-sponsoring the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) 273 course in Portsmouth, NH with FEMA Region I and the New Hampshire Office of Energy & Planning in September. This course is designed to provide an organized training opportunity for local officials responsible for administering their local floodplain management ordinance. The course will focus on the NFIP and concepts of floodplain management, maps and studies, ordinance administration, and the relationship between floodplain management and flood insurance.

A separate (optional) CFM exam will be held on Friday, October 2nd. Course attendance is NOT required to sit for the CFM exam. Please see details below for more information.

COST: Course attendance is FREE, but registration is required. Attendees are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and meal expenses.   

Registration deadline: September 1, 2015. To register for the course, please follow instructions in the course flyer.

Please contact Jennifer Gilbert at 603-271-1762 or

CFM Exam* (optional)
October 2, 2015, 9:00AM - 12:00PM
Portsmouth, NH

Separate registration and fee required to sit for the CFM Exam. Exam applications and fee must be submitted to ASFPM not later than September 23, 2015 in order to sit for the exam on October 2, 2015.
*CFM exam is optional, and a separate registration and fee are required to sit for the CFM exam.  Note: The 273 course is not a CFM Exam prep course; takers should not expect to pass the exam without additional study of materials found at the CFM Exam Preparation Guide.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interactive Flood Inundation Mapper Released for Waterbury

The USGS Flood Inundation Mapper now includes data for Waterbury Village, Vermont.   This web-based map tool allows you to see the extent of upcoming flooding based on flood predictions from the National Weather Service.

This is the first demonstration of the USGS Flood Inundation Mapper in Vermont and it will be particularly helpful in emergency situations.  The National Weather Service already has a NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service page for Waterbury that predicts how high the river will get (stage) and describes where the water will spread.  The new USGS Flood Inundation Mapper will work together with the NWS page to visually illustrate the buildings, roads and services that will be affected during specific flood events.

Zoom to Waterbury, Vermont and click on the triangle.

USGS has also released an updated study of flood hazards in Waterbury.  This new study uses fresh information about river flows and improved landscape information covering the area north of Main Street.   The FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map in effect now used flood information up through 1998.

Flood maps for the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vermont, Scott Olson 2014: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2015–5077.  

On the Waterbury Flood Inundation Mapper – the extent of flooding at the 429 foot stage just exceeds the USGS calculation for the extent of the one percent annual chance flood.

In April 2015 Waterbury also received an independent study commissioned by the Lake Champlain Basin Program:

Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Floodplain Protection Activities in Waterbury, Vermont and Willsboro, New York, Lake Champlain Basin, U.S.A.R. Schiff, S. Bighinatti, E. Fitzgerald, N. Wahlund, D. Carlton, A. Church, J. Louisos, and B. Cote, Milone and MacBroom, Inc.; Fitzgerald Environmental Associates; Earth Economics, and DK Carlton and Associates. April 2015.

One page summary: Floodplain Management Economics Fact Sheet, Waterbury, Vermont.

This Lake Champlain Basin Program study looked at mapped flood hazards as well as trends affecting future flooding.  This thorough study was particularly attentive to the costs and benefits for communities like Waterbury to plan and create an affordable flood resilient future.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Technical Support Hotline for Flood Insurance Claims

Technical Support Hotline 

National Flood Insurance Program policyholders, who have questions about their flood insurance policy or the claims process, and disaster survivors, who have general questions about the National Flood Insurance Program, can contact the Technical Support Hotline / Call Center by:

When calling, please have the following information available:

  • Contact information (name, telephone number or email address, if applicable)
  • Policy number
  • Name of flood insurance carrier
  • The nature of your request

This information will help the representative answer your questions quickly and efficiently.
Please see our fact sheet for more information about this technical support hotline.

Two other NFIP sites that may be helpful to you:
consumer information about flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program; and

FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) 

providing map specialists to support inquiries on how to find and read flood maps, preliminary flood hazard data, Letters of Map Change, Elevation Certificates, and the National Flood Hazard Layer.

Contact a Map Specialist:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Live in Bennington County? - Check the New Flood Map !

On December 2, 2015 the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map will go into effect covering Bennington County, Vermont.  If you live in or near a floodplain you should check the map to see what level of risk has been identified for your building.

The Special Flood Hazard Areas (Zone A and AE) on the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) can be viewed on the Flood Ready Atlas   Choose "Flood Ready Tools" then "Zoom to Address" and "Toggle Flood Data On".

Special Flood Hazard Areas include areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding.  This is more than a 1 in 4 chance over the period of a 30 year mortgage.  Some parts of the mapped floodplain get flooded more frequently and are subject to high velocity flows.

The current FIRMs (made town by town) will expire in December.  They can be viewed online (as .pdfs) at the FEMA Map Service Center   You can make a small official FIRMette map and plot the location of your building from mapped road intersections.

Check the maps to determine if your building is at risk of damage from the base flood.   Federal law requires lenders to ensure that any mortgages or loans to buildings in the high risk SFHA have insurance to at least cover the mortgage, the value of the building, or the total amount available from the National Flood Insurance Program (whichever is lowest).

If your building was built before the first municipal Flood Insurance Rate Map (late 1970's), and your structure will become identified as being at high risk for the first time, you should learn about "grandfathering your flood zone".  To grandfather your flood zone you would need to buy a flood insurance policy before the map change and then maintain the policy going forward.  This would give you an opportunity to grandfather the lower risk / lower cost Zone X status on the basis of "continuity of coverage".

There will be public meetings in the fall to discuss flood insurance, grandfathering, and how to make buildings less vulnerable to damage and less costly to insure.

Bennington County has over 600 families as well as educational, government and critical facilities in the high risk flood zone.

Across the county (and the state) the Town of Bennington has the most structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area, around 480 (8% of all buildings in town).

Overall there seem to be around 450 buildings that may be indicated as in the high risk flood hazard area (Zone A, AE, AO) for the first time.  Approximately 350 have been newly identified as in the low to moderate risk Zone X.

The towns with the most structures that have been newly identified as at high risk include Bennington, Pownal, Arlington, Manchester and Dorset.

Watch for updates regarding insurance meetings in the fall.

Friday, March 27, 2015

ASFPM call for Award Nominations, Due 3/31

A recent announcement from the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM).  My understanding is that they are still looking for nominations:

Every year at our national conference, ASFPM bestows awards to deserving floodplain managers/programs/outreach activities.
Do you know of a state or local floodplain manager deserving of one of ASFPM's annual awards?

Every year at our national conference, we bestow awards to deserving floodplain managers/programs/outreach activities. We still need nominations for the Tom Lee State Award for Excellence, James Lee Witt Local Award for Excellence, and the Outreach/Media Award. Click… to learn about the award descriptions, and here for nomination instructions. Deadline is March 31.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Update on the new Federal Executive Order & Implementing Guidelines

A few weeks ago, we had posted information about the newly signed Federal Executive Order (EO) 13690 and the draft Federal guidelines that were released along with the EO.  Since that time, FEMA has posted more information about organized public listening sessions (all are located far away from us in Vermont) and about submitting public comments on the new Federal guidelines on implementing the new EO.

These new DRAFT guidelines, titled Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS), have an open public comment period until Monday April 6, 2015.  Comments can be submitted directly online through this website.  The public comment period is specifically intended for comments on the new FFRMS; the new EO has already been finalized.  We encourage individuals or organizations to participate in this process by providing comments and feedback on the draft FFRMS implementing guidelines.  Our understanding is that they are looking for both what people like about the new guidelines and what you may have suggestions on for improvement.  The last time the guidelines on Federal procedure & policy regarding floodplains were opened up for revision and update was back in the late 1970s, so this is an opportunity that doesn't come along often!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Federal Executive Order on Floodplains & a Federal Flood Risk Management Strategy

On January 30th, 2015, the President released a new Federal Executive Order regarding floodplains.  This new Executive Order (EO 13690) does not replace the existing Federal Executive Order 11988 (which dates back to the Carter Administration, effective 1977), but rather supplements 11988 in areas where the federal floodplain standards were lagging behind some of the existing state floodplain review standards.  Existing EO 11988 requires federal agencies to assess floodplain impacts when a federal action is taken within a federally-mapped floodplain.  Typically, federal agencies are tasked with ensuring the federal project is in compliance with minimum NFIP standards.

ASFPM has created a specific webpage for the new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) that contains links to the various documents, as well as some background on the development of this new standard.  In addition, the implementation of the new EO and FFRMS has been reported about in the New York Times, as well as the Washington Post.

From the new EO 13690:

As part of a national policy on resilience and risk reduction consistent with my Climate Action Plan, the National Security Council staff coordinated an interagency effort to create a new flood risk reduction standard for federally funded projects. The views of Governors, mayors, and other stakeholders were solicited and considered as efforts were made to establish a new flood risk reduction standard for federally funded projects. The result of these efforts is the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (Standard), a flexible framework to increase resilience against flooding and help preserve the natural values of floodplains. Incorporating this Standard will ensure that agencies expand management from the current base flood level to a higher vertical elevation and corresponding horizontal floodplain to address current and future flood risk and ensure that projects funded with taxpayer dollars last as long as intended.

Key provisions of the new EO 13690 and the FFRMS, taken from FEMA's summary of the draft FFRMS Guidelines
The new federal flood risk standard requires all future federal investments in and affecting floodplains to meet the level of resilience as established by the Standard.  For example, this includes where federal funds are used to build new structures and facilities or to rebuild those that have been damaged.
The Standard specifically requires federal agencies to consider current and future risk when taxpayer dollars are used to build or rebuild floodplains.
In implementing the Standard, federal agencies will be given the flexibility to select one of three approaches for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design, and construction:
  • Utilizing best-available, actionable data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on science,
  • Two or three feet of elevation, depending on the criticality of the building, above the 100-year, or 1%-annual-chance, flood elevation, or
  • 500-year, or 0.2%-annual-chance, flood elevation.

It is important to note that neither this new EO 13690 nor the existing EO 11988 change the local administration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or any state minimum standards.

A 60-day Public Comment period is now open for the Draft Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Implementing Guidelines (FFRMS) which was also released on 1/30/2015.  Individuals are encouraged to submit comments before April 6, 2015.  Here is a link to a FEMA Frequently Asked Questions page of the Draft FFRMS.