According to FEMA, “everyone lives in a flood zone–it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate, or high risk area.” According to Floodsmart.gov, more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones.
So what are flood ones and why do they matter?
Flood Zone Definition
Flood zones identify risk for specific areas as identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They’re intended to establish the best estimates of floodplains.
Why Are They Important?
FEMA maps are used to determine building codes and for determining insurance risk. Property owners in high risk areas must buy flood insurance as it is not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
However, critics of FEMA maps suggest they’re outdated and unreliable. Consequently, they create a false sense of security. Rhode Island’s risk is on the rise.
Measuring Risk in Rhode Island
Rhode Island scientists have created other tools for Rhode Island residents to measure flooding risk. This includes STORMTOOLS, which estimates storm surge vulnerability, water rise during a 100-year coastal storm, and the effect of sea level rise on properties. The program provides a more detailed and accurate flood mapping, down to the neighborhood level.
University of Rhode Island scientists predict Rhode Island is particularly susceptible to climate and sea level change. They state “federal flood maps underestimate how more frequent and intense storms will impact the state’s coastal dunes, most notably in southern Rhode Island.”
Additionally, scientists predict the erosion rate in Rhode Island will double by 2065. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also projected a 9.6 foot sea-level rise in Rhode Island by 2100.
Growing Need for Flood Insurance
Presently, homeowners must buy flood insurance if they need a mortgage, federal loan, or a line of credit and their home lies in a high-risk flood zone. As well, new construction must adhere to the Rhode Island Shoreline Change Special Area Management Plan (Beach SAMP).
However, considering the increasing risk and unreliability of FEMA flood maps and the frequency of flooding outside of high-risk areas, all homeowners should consider flood insurance, even if they are mortgage-free.
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) urges anyone who owns or rents property near a body of water to purchase flood insurance since they expect the trends of “climate changes, increases in precipitation, and greater frequency of storms” to continue.
Of the nearly 500,000 homes and businesses in Rhode Island only 5.6% have flood insurance. However, all Rhode Island communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) so they’re eligible for a flood insurance policy. Private flood insurance is also available.
The cost of a flood policy depends on the amount of coverage you buy and your risk area. NFIP flood insurance offers two coverages which are purchased separately: building property and personal property.
Flooding causes extensive damage. According to Floodsmart.gov data, just 1 inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home. The costs increase radically as water levels rise.
Discuss flood insurance needs with one of our agents and definitely take a look at your home on STORMTOOLS. Anyone can experience loss from flooding, so this isn’t something that you can afford to ignore.