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Advisory Base Flood Elevations: What Your Community Needs to Know

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Advisory Base Flood Elevations: What Your Community Needs to Know. Information for Floodplain Managers and Local Officials. Contents. Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFE) Overview What is an ABFE? Advisory Maps When and Where Areas Where Maps Will Be Available Changes to Look For - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Advisory Base Flood Elevations: What Your Community Needs to Know

  • Advisory Base Flood Elevations: What Your Community Needs to KnowInformation for Floodplain Managers and Local Officials

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    ContentsAdvisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFE) OverviewWhat is an ABFE?Advisory MapsWhen and Where Areas Where Maps Will Be AvailableChanges to Look ForBiggert-Waters 2012 FEMA Flood Insurance Program ChangesOverview and ImplicationsImplications of ABFEs on:Flood InsuranceIncreased Cost of ComplianceBuilding PracticesFloodplain ManagementCommunity Official Next Steps

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    Why is updated flood hazard information needed post Sandy?State and local officials face major decisions as they plan the rebuilding and recovery efforts throughout local communities.Property and business owners with damage or destroyed property face major decisions about the rebuilding of their homes or businesses.Decisions made today can help provide a safer, stronger future for communities, families, and business owners.

    Providing reliable and timely flood hazard data is just one way FEMA is helping decision makers ensure that New Jersey and New York coastal communities recover smarter and stronger in the wake of this devastating event.

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    ContextPrior to Sandy, FEMA was performing a restudy of the New Jersey and New York coastline with anticipated products to be delivered in mid-2013. Since the effective information for many of the areas of NJ and NY do not currently reflect the best available data and the regulatory products have not been finalized to be delivered to local officials and the public, FEMA believes it is vital to provide near-term Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) to support reconstruction efforts.

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    What is an Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE)?ABFEs are based on sound engineering and scienceABFEs are derived from updated coastal flood analyses and data as compared to the coastal elevations shown on the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)ABFEs are updated estimates of the 1% annual chance flood elevations. These are estimated water levels associated with a flood event that has a 1% of being equaled or exceeded in any given yearABFEs will reflect higher elevations than BFEs shown on current effective FIRMsCoastal flood zones updated using ABFEs may extend further inland than Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) shown on current effective FIRMsPrototype for illustrative purposes.

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    Where will ABFEs be available?New Jersey (10 Counties)Atlantic County, NJBergen County, NJBurlington County, NJCape May County, NJEssex County, NJ Hudson County, NJMiddlesex County, NJMonmouth County, NJOcean County, NJUnion County, NJNew York (8 Counties)Bronx County, NYKings County, NYNew York County, NYQueens County, NYRichmond County, NYWestchester County, NYNassau County, NY*Suffolk County, NY** Recent updated FIRM in effect. FEMA is currently reviewing the analysis used to produce the updated FIRMs for Nassau and Suffolk to determine if the effects of Hurricane Sandy would impact those elevations.

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    When will ABFEs be available?* Dates above reflect dates on which data will be made available to local officials. Engagement with local government officials will occur prior to and after release of ABFEs.

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    What will you see on ABFE Maps?Notes & Overview MapDelineated advisory flood hazard zones:Advisory Zone VAdvisory Zone AAdvisory Zone X

    Advisory Base Flood Elevations for 1% annual chance flood elevations

    Advisory elevations for 0.2% annual chance flood elevations

    Area and limit of structurally damaging wave action

    Preliminary Hurricane Sandy high water marks

    Coastal Barrier Resource Areas

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    Changes in the Flood Insurance Program: Biggert-Waters 2012 (BW-12) OverviewSigned into law by the President: July 6, 2012

    What it does: Reauthorized the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for five years Eliminates a variety of existing flood insurance discounts and subsidies.

    Results of the law: Subsidies will be phased out for the following types of properties: non-primary residences, severe repetitive loss properties, business properties, and properties that have incurred flood-related damages where claims payments exceed the fair market value of the property. Policy rates will also increase based on one or all of the following circumstances:A change of ownership;A lapse in insurance coverage;A mapped change in flood risk; orSubstantial damage or improvement to a building.

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    BW-12: The Bottom LineThe new rates will reflect the full flood risk of an insured buildingSome insurance subsidies and discounts will be phased-out and eventually eliminatedOwners can take actions in rebuilding to reduce their future flood insurance costs and reduce riskFEMA has programs to help owners reduce their risk and save money on flood insurance

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    ABFE Implications: Flood InsuranceImplications on Insurance PremiumsAdvisory BFEs will not supersede the zones or elevations currently in effect; premiums will continue to be rated based on the current, effective flood insurance rate map (FIRM)Advisory flood elevations and flood risk zones may be reflected in future Flood Insurance Rate Maps, affecting minimum building requirements and flood insurance premiums.Flood Insurance ChangesBW-12 provides long-term changes to the National Flood Insurance ProgramInsurance premiums adjust to reflect changing risks

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    ABFE Implications: Increase Cost of Compliance (ICC)Current NFIP flood insurance policyholders in high-risk areas might get up to $30,000 to help bring their home or business into compliance with their community's floodplain ordinanceIf their structure has been declared substantially damaged from a flooding eventICC funds can help pay for floodproofing, elevation, relocation, or demolitionICC benefit only allows a homeowner to build to compliance with the communitys current ordinanceProperty owners can only access ICC funding for the cost of elevating to Advisory BFEs if their community adopts the Advisory Maps

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    ABFE Implications: Building PracticesImplications on Building Practices When Community Adopts Advisory MapsSubstantially Damaged StructuresMust be rebuilt with lowest floors elevated to the Advisory BFE plus freeboardMust be rebuilt to V zone standards if located in V or Coastal A ZonesNon-Substantially Damaged StructuresOwners who voluntarily elevate to or above Advisory BFEs will recoup higher construction costs by lowering their insurance premiums

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    ABFE Implications: Floodplain ManagementFEMA will use the highest floodplain management standard in grant decisions

    Advisory BFEs may have Compliance will reduce the vulnerability of structures to flooding and flood damageBuilding to lower floodplain standards could jeopardize FEMA funding

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    What are my best steps as a Community Official?Be proactive by adopting the Advisory Maps into your local Flood Damage Prevention OrdinanceInclude a freeboard standard in your ordinance that requires lowest floors to be elevated at least 2 feet above the Advisory BFEs shown on the maps Include a requirement that requires V zone construction standards in the Coastal A zones shown on the Advisory Maps

    Your Community is Not Alone. Your state officials and FEMA will continue working to provide technical assistance to local communities to help resolve issues related to the use of new Advisory BFEs.

    For more information on ABFEs, please visit www.region2coastal.com/sandy starting in December 2012

    *These are the areas well cover.

    On July 6, 2012, a law (Biggert-Waters 2012) took effect that made significant reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This law requires FEMA to take immediate steps to eliminate a variety of existing flood insurance discounts and subsidies. This new laws impacts should be reconsidered in individual rebuilding decisions.

    **ABFEs are derived from updated coastal flood analyses and data as compared to the coastal elevations shown on the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)ABFEs are calculated using up-to-date models and engineering methodsABFEs are updated estimates of the 1% annual chance flood water elevations. These are estimated water levels associated with a flood event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given yearABFEs will reflect higher elevations than BFEs shown on current effective FIRMsCoastal flood zones updated using ABFEs may extend further inland than Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) shown on current effective FIRMs

    Map with political boundaries (county, state) that delineates advisory flood hazard zones:Advisory Zone VAdvisory Zone AAdvisory Zone X

    1% and 0.2% annual chance flood elevations

    Area and limit of structurally damaging wave action

    Preliminary high water marks

    Coastal Barrier Resource Areas*Under the new law, flood insurance premium rates are likely to increase. The new rates will reflect the full flood risk of an insured building and some insurance subsidies and discounts will be phased-out and eventually eliminated. Rates on almost all buildings that are or will be in special flood hazard areas will be revised over time to reflect full flood risks, and based on various conditions set forth in the law, subsidies and grandfathered rates will be eliminated for most properties in the future. Policy rates will increase based on one or all of the following circumstances:After a change of ownership;After there is a lapse in insurance coverage;When there is a change in flood risk; orIf there is substantial damage or improvement to a building.

    *FEMA will use the advisory maps for making determinations on grant programs

    Q: What is a subsidized policy?A: A subsidized policy is one that does not pay the full actuarial rate and is not reflective of the true risk of flood to that property. Homes located in a high-risk flood zone (i.e., zones beginning with an A or V, for Velocity Zone) and built before the first flood insurance rate map became effective, and that have not been substantially damaged or improved, may currently be receiving subsidized flood insurance premium rates. Talk to your insurance agent for help determining your specific situation, or check the FEMA Map Service Center to view a Map showing which zone your property may be located in at www.msc.fema.gov.

    Starting January 1, 2013, premium rates for subsidized non-primary residences will begin increasing. Rates will increase 25% per year until they reflect the full risk-rate. Later in 2013, there will be premium rate increases for additional categories of subsidized properties, including business properties, substantially damaged or improved properties, severe repetitive loss properties, and any property that has incurred flood-related damages where claim payments exceed the fair market value of the property. Rates for these additional categories of properties will phase in at a rate of 25% per year until they reflect full risk rates. Additionally, in late 2013, FEMA will begin to apply full risk rates to policies written in conjunction with the sale of a property.Beginning in 2014, other properties, including non-subsidized properties, will encounter premium rate increases as new flood insurance rate maps become effective.Effective immediately, some buildings in areas where flood insurance rate maps have been revised will be subject to phased-in full risk rates. This means that, even if you build to minimum standards today, you will be subject to significant rate increases if your flood risk changes in the future.

    Save money on flood insurance by reducing your flood risk. Flood insurance premiums are based on flood risk. Therefore as flood risk increases, flood insurance premiums also increase. Home and business owners whose properties have been flooded must make important decisions about repairing, rebuilding, or relocating their building. One choice would be to repair or rebuild to current standards. However, if advisory base flood elevations indicate that elevations have changed, or if other factors in the future cause the flood elevations to rise, these home and business owners would be missing out on a significant opportunity to mitigate their future flood risk and thereby lower their future flood insurance premiums.One specific way for you to reduce future losses and your premium is to raise your building above the minimum required elevation standards. Flood insurance premiums are lower for buildings in high-risk areas that are elevated above minimum requirements, so rebuilding higher provides immediate flood insurance benefits. Generally, the higher a building is elevated, the lower the cost of flood insurance. Additionally, depending on where you live, other ways to reduce premiums could include adding vents to enclosures or installing breakaway walls. Flood zone designations can also change as flood risk changes. The flood zone that is designated for a structure can dictate construction methods required to receive discounted flood insurance rates. For example, newly-constructed or substantially improved structures in V-zones must be elevated on post, piers, or pilings. Because zone designations can change, FEMA recommends that those near existing V zones consider rebuilding using posts, piers, or pilings.As new maps are developed, it is possible that structures not previously located within a Special Flood Hazard Area will be redesignated, and will be required to obtain flood insurance. A new policy may not be subsidized.Residents, business owners, and community leaders should take a close look at their current flood risks and consider how those risks might change in the future. Because insurance costs will rise with rising flood risk and hazards, keeping insurance costs in check will mean being more proactive in reducing flood risk and going beyond mere compliance with federal minimum floodplain management requirements. Adopting higher standards and building back stronger and safer are key strategies for reducing the cost of flood insurance. To learn how to build safer and stronger and potentially decrease your flood insurance premiums: www.fema.gov/building-science/hurricane-sandy-building-science-activities-resources.

    A: Yes, there are three FEMA programs that directly or indirectly may result in flood insurance discounts to policyholders:FEMA provides hazard mitigation grants to states for activities such as elevation, property acquisition, and floodproofing. When completed, these activities can reduce or eliminate risk, which may result in lower flood insurance rates. To see if you are eligible for Hazard Mitigation grants visit www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-assistance.The Community Rating System (CRS) offers insurance premium discounts (up to 45%) for individuals in communities implementing floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements of the NFIP. By implementing CRS floodplain management best practices, flood losses are reduced, public safety is enhanced, and the cost of flood insurance is decreased. To learn more about CRS visit http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/CRS/. Current NFIP flood insurance policyholders in high-risk areas also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), might get up to $30,000 to help pay the costs to bring their home or business into compliance with their community's floodplain ordinance if their structure has been declared substantially damaged from a flooding event. This insurance coverage is known as Increased Cost of Compliance and can help pay the cost of floodproofing, elevation, relocation, or demolition. In some cases, ICC funds can be used as a non-federal cost share for other FEMA grants.Each of these options will reduce risk, which could result in lower flood insurance rates.

    *Advisory flood elevations and flood risk zones may ultimately generate official Flood Insurance Rate Maps and affect the minimum building requirements in the communities and the flood insurance rates charged.

    Also, perhaps the most important BW-12 implication is the relationship between the current BFE, the aBFE, and future BFEs. BW-12 will rate policies according to their current risk. If someone builds to aBFE, and the final BFE is a foot higher, that could result in $1,000 or more difference in their premium per year. Grandfathering used to act as a floor so that the relationship to BFE didnt really matter. But under BW-12, it will matter greatly. If you build exactly to a current BFE and a higher BFE is later established and adopted that results in your home being below that new BFE, your flood insurance premiums could increase substantially.

    Flood Insurance ChangesThe Biggert-Waters Flood insurance Reform Act of 2012 require the NFIP to eliminate flood insurance subsidies and discounts and increase rates to reflect the actual risk. When implemented, these provisions could potentially have a significant future impact on rates for properties not compliant with future NFIP requirements. As risks change, insurance premiums also change to reflect those risks. Your flood insurance premiums may be going up. however, you may be able to reduce your premium if you build your home or business to be safer, higher, and stronger.Also as flood maps are updated, flood zones and associated premiums could change to reflect the new flood risk.A primary way to reduce or avoid future flood losses is to raise your building above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)

    Flood zone designations can also change as flood risk changes. The flood zone that is designated for a structure can dictate construction methods required to receive discounted flood insurance rates. For example, newly-constructed or substantially improved structures in V-zones must be elevated on posts, piers, or pilings. Because zone designations can change, FEMA recommends that those near existing V zones consider rebuilding using posts, piers, or pilings.

    *Current NFIP flood insurance policyholders in high-risk areas also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), might get up to $30,000 to help pay the costs to bring their home or business into compliance with their community's floodplain ordinance if their structure has been declared substantially damaged from a flooding event. This insurance coverage is known as Increased Cost of Compliance and can help pay the cost of floodproofing, elevation, relocation, or demolition. In some cases, ICC funds can be used as a non-federal cost share for other FEMA grants.

    *Implications on Building Practices The minimum NFIP requirement is to floodproof a non-residential building to the BFE. However, when it is rated for flood insurance, one foot is subtracted from the flood-proofed elevation. Therefore, a building has to be floodproofed to one foot above the BFE to receive the same favorable insurance rates as a building elevated to the BFE.

    Whether a building is elevated or floodproofed, it is important that all parts exposed to floodwaters be made of flood-resistant materials This includes all portions of the building below the BFE including foundation elements such as floor beams and joists and any below BFE enclosures.*If local floodplain management ordinances are more stringent than FEMA Advisory BFEs FEMA will use local ordinances as standard [VICE VERSA]

    FEMA ABFEs are usually recommendations, but with grants they are considered the standard if they exceed local requirements which are generally less stringent. In the case where a home is built to minimum local floodplain management requirements that are less stringent than the FEMA ABFEs, the use of grant funding will be jeopardized since FEMA adopts the highest of either the community or advisory standards. Therefore, failure to comply with the ABFEs/ the highest standard could result in loss of grant funding.

    While the initial cost to rebuild to Advisory Base Flood Elevation standards may be slightly higher, communities and property owners will save money over the long term by having structures that are more resistant to costly flood damage and eligible for lower flood insurance premiums.

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