Legal petition urges FEMA to update flood rules to protect affordable housing units

The National Resources Defense Council (NCRC) and the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) jointly petitioned the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make significant changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to modernize its flood risk maps and update restrictions on construction and land-use in floodplains across the country, which have remained the same for more than four decades.

“Updating national standards will help communities be better prepared to handle the floods of today and better anticipate the flood risks of tomorrow – and in doing so, save lives, protect property from the impacts of climate change, and reduce disaster costs,” said Chad Berginnis, ASFPM executive director.

Research warns that the number of affordable housing units at risk of coastal flooding and sea level rise will likely triple in the next 30 years, with thousands of units at risk of “chronic coastal flooding” in Atlantic City, New York City and Boston. “The American dream of homeownership becomes a nightmare when homes are built in areas that flood today and will be more vulnerable in the future,” said Joel Scata, an attorney with NRDC. “FEMA’s building standards do not reflect the threats from climate-related flooding… FEMA has the power to spare millions of people the misery of living with rising waters.”

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