Last week, several civic groups filed a petition for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to revise and update the agency’s floodplain maps and rules. Concerned citizens have noted that despite the fact that flooding is now the most common disaster faced by the country, FEMA has not changed any of the floodplain rules since 1970 .
Lack of oversight in floodplain use have kept many people in the dark about the risks they face in building their home in low areas; particularly on flat lands near stream or rivers that under present conditions are likely to be inundated by water level rise. The petition was filed by several environmental and planning groups calling on FEMA to update flood maps and establish more rigid standards for floodplain construction in anticipation of the risks posed by climate change.
Atty. Joel Scata, the spokesperson for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the groups that filed the petition said:
”FEMA could have spared millions of Americans the misery they go through as they live near rising waters, had the agency updated its flood-risk maps.” “Up to now they agency has been furnishing historical data that does not accurately reflect the evident growing threats of climate change.”
The Association of State Floodplain Managers, another group behind the petition, through its Executive Director Chad Berginnis said that its imperative for the federal agency to “catch up” in order to ensure more at-risk communities will have better protection.
According to the World Resources Institute, research studies indicate that an estimated 15 million Americans, or about 5% of those who live in floodplain areas are likely to experience flooding at least once in 100 years. The problem however is that developers are still offering available lands in floodplains, and as a result have brought a growing number of people living in flood-prone areas.
Homeowners Now Confronted with Possibility of Owning Low-Value Homes
Now here’s the thing, while FEMA has given indications of acting on the petition to have their floodmaps updated, homeowners living in areas that will be designated as at risk of flooding, face the possibility of owning low-value properties. After all, water damage due to flooding have caused many insurance companies to up their premiums.
Those whose homes were built with hardwood floors suffered the most. While many took to replacing their floorings with other materials that can better withstand water damage, others can only afford to put up with the hassles of trying to save their wood flooring. In some cases, many had to do the cleaning and the repairs themselves as professional providers of cleaning and restoration services were swamped with calls, unable to respond immediately to all requests.
Water needs to be remove immediately so that wood floorings can dry as quickly as possible. Water proofing and sealants can only do so much in protecting floors, since there are numerous entry points by which water can penetrate undersurfaces. Problems caused by water damage include mold growth and wood “cupping,” which if not immediately addressed lead to more issues.
As an aside, when trying to save wood floorings, it would be best to do some heavy sanding on floorboards already showing signs of cupping. Using an orbital sander can ease out the difficulty of taking off some of the cupped areas that are likely to appear as floor imperfections.
Still, even if FEMA releases floodplain maps updated for 2021, many homeowners are faced with the dilemma of having to live in homes constantly at risk of flooding.