Floodplain Management for Modern Times, Part 1: An Introduction
Humans cannot survive without water, yet it can also be one of the most powerful and destructive forces on earth. Flooding is a danger to not only roadways, homes, and commercial buildings, but also to human life.
Why do we live or build in areas that are known to flood?
In many cases, the land in flood zones is the most affordable choice for people. Others opt to live in these places for the views, or for good farming conditions.
It can also be very difficult to sell land located in a flood zone. Throughout the country, many homes or plots of land were not, until recently, officially declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be in a flood zone. So, when people purchased the land or home, they may have had no idea it would be prone to flooding or end up being in a flood zone as the maps change over time given any number of conditions like coastal erosion.
Why is flood insurance so expensive?
Whatever their reasons, many people currently live in flood zones. This strains not just the individuals living in such places but also local communities and society at large.
When catastrophic flooding occurs, government resources are often needed to rescue people trapped in homes or other structures. These activities end up costing taxpayers, but the rescue costs pale in comparison to other costs like rebuilding damaged infrastructure and buildings or homes.
For example, damage caused to homes that have been severely flooded could include removal and replacement of drywall, replacement of furnaces, repair or replacement of electrical and plumbing systems, replacement of personal items, and in extreme cases, insurance may require structures to be elevated to be legally habitable after a flood or completely torn down.
As you can see, the costs of flood damage could be significant. In some homes, especially older ones, the drywall or other building materials may have to be removed from the entire structure to control or remove mold growth from water damage. It is important to quickly remove mold in order to avoid harmful health impacts to residents due to exposure.
All of these costs eventually affect people who live in flood zones because the impact on insurance premiums is considerable. For instance, bailouts to people who are not insured must be covered in some way, and paying claims even for the insured can represent astronomical expenses for insurance companies.
Eventually, insurance companies will raise rates for everyone, including people who do not live in flood zones, to ensure they have the capital to pay for it all because standard insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Only flood insurance covers the costs of damages associated with a flood.
How can Walden help?
Walden has recently published a guide on Floodplain Management for Communities. Stay tuned in the coming weeks as we post additional blogs with more detail on floodplain management and flood insurance.
Walden has a Certified Floodplain Manager on staff and can provide floodplain and coastal management services. Give us a call at 516-271-1948 to speak with an experienced professional about your community’s needs.