FEMA Moves to Update Flooding Rules for Homes

WASHINGTON  – The Federal Emergency Management Agency took an important step toward updating building requirements for homes in flood zones, which would help protect homeowners and reduce repeated flood damages for houses facing increased risk of flooding.

The request for information on changes to the National Flood Insurance Program’s floodplain management standards was issued in response to a petition filed earlier this year by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM).

The following is a statement from Joel Scata an attorney at NRDC:

“FEMA is taking an important step to help protect homeowners from the growing threat of flooding. The American dream of homeownership becomes a nightmare when homes aren’t built to withstand the risks they face.

“With the climate crisis making flooding more frequent and more intense, these building standards must be updated so homes aren’t inundated and ruined on a regular basis. We look forward to working with FEMA to ensure standards are put in place to protect homeowners while reducing their insurance costs.”

The following is a statement from Chad Berginnis, executive director of the Association of State Floodplain Managers:

“ASFPM appreciates FEMA’s decision to evaluate the minimum land use and building standards of the NFIP to address the urgent need of flood risk reduction and work toward the conservation of threatened and endangered species. 

“In communities across the country, our members have long been implementing NFIP standards as well as those that exceed FEMA’s current requirements. We understand what works, what doesn't, and how much more needs to be done. It is time NFIP standards are updated to not only reflect the best modern approaches to reduce flood risk in the face of growing climate-related disasters but to also integrate approaches that conserve the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.”


In their joint January petition, NRDC and ASFPM urged FEMA to set stronger construction and land-use standards, including requiring all new or substantially improved structures to be elevated higher than the 100-year flood level and to develop floodplain maps that depict the true extent of current and future flood risk.

FEMA has not revised floodplain management regulations since they were first implemented in 1976. In its request for public comment, the agency said it is considering revising the standards to better align with current understanding of flood risk and flood mitigation approaches.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Founded in 1977, the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) is a scientific and educational nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing flood loss in the nation. ASFPM and its 38 chapters represent approximately 20,000 state and local officials as well as other professionals engaged in all aspects of floodplain management and flood hazard mitigation including management of local floodplain ordinances, flood risk mapping, engineering, planning, community development, hydrology, forecasting, emergency response, water resources development, and flood insurance. Visit us at www.floods.org.

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