President Obama’s recent executive order for a Flood Risk Management Standard aims to make communities across the country safer and more resilient to flooding disasters. In addition the order also ensures tax dollars aren’t wasted on rebuilding infrastructure that can’t withstand the anticipated increase in climate-related impacts.
The standard requires that all new or rebuilt federally-funded projects near a floodplain must account for the impacts of climate change, specifically calling for the assessment of both current and future flood risks. This will apply when siting, planning, and constructing infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports, hospitals, shelters, energy projects, and military bases, and could also affect some home or business owners looking for FEMA funding to rebuild after a hurricane or severe storm.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, at least 350 communities across the country – including Dallas, Nashville, Denver, Tulsa, and the states of Indiana, Montana, New York, and Wisconsin – have already adopted standards that meet or exceed this new federal standard. These state and local actions seem to complement the findings of a congressionally mandated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, which concluded that it is the shared responsibility of all levels of government to improve the planning for and management of increased flooding risks. The bottom line is that losses caused by flooding affect the environment, our economic prosperity, and public health and safety, each of which affects our national security.
Read more below about the new flood standards and what our nation’s leaders are doing to protect the homes, businesses, and vital infrastructure of our citizens.
By Zahra Hirji | InsideClimate News @insideclimate | February 3, 2015
President Barack Obama’s latest executive order looks to curb future damages from one of the nation’s most common and costly forms of climate-related disasters: flooding.
The order, issued Jan. 30, creates a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that requires current — and future — flood risk assessments to be rolled into the planning and construction of federally funded projects in and around floodplains.
Today, most agencies determine a new construction project’s flood hazard based on historic flood data, not future flood projections. In fact, the latest flood hazard maps designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency do not currently account for future risks — although the agency is working on this.
According to a White House blog post by John Podesta, an energy and climate adviser to the president, and Craig Fugate, head of FEMA, this new order will “help communities bounce back faster from disasters.” In the 1990s, for example, floods were responsible for property damages totaling approximately $50 billion.
The post also links climate change to a projected increase in U.S. flood frequency and intensity. Specifically, it cites new research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicting that most of the coast “will face 30 or more days of flooding each year by 2050 because of sea level rise.” Over 39 percent of the U.S. population lives in coastal counties, and, according to the National Climate Assessment, there’s over $1 billion in coastal infrastructure and property at risk of inundation.