Monday, February 22, 2021

FEMA Working To Set New Premiums For Flood Insurance; Premiums Could Increase 4.5 Times; Over 25,100 More Properties At Risk Of Flooding In PA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is now working to better price flood risk at the individual property level to more accurately reflect the risk of today’s climate

Through the forthcoming “Risk Rating 2.0” initiative, FEMA will be setting new premiums for properties both inside and outside of Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) based on their individual flood risk.

New research released from First Street Foundation February 22 quantifies the financial impacts of flood risk carried by American homeowners, and how those impacts are growing as flood risks worsen due to a rapidly changing climate

The research demonstrates that if all homes were to be insured against flood risk through the National Flood Insurance Program, the rates would need to increase 4.5 times to cover the risk today.

The Foundation finds that while the total expected annual loss for properties noted above is $20 billion this year, it grows to nearly $32.2 billion a year in 30 years – an increase of 61 percent – due to the impact of a changing climate. 

These estimates suggest the National Flood Insurance Program, which has lost over $36 billion since its inception, will face growing losses in the years ahead without reform.

First Street Foundation estimates about 732,736 properties are now at risk of flooding in Pennsylvania. That number will increase by 25,122 to 757,858 in 30 years.

Click Here for Pennsylvania-specific information.  

Click Here to find your home’s flood risk.


A draft final Climate Impact Assessment released by the Department of Environmental Protection finds Pennsylvania will experience 42 percent more days of “extremely heavy” precipitation amounts by 2050 and 24 percent more days of “very heavy” precipitation.  Read more here.

The report also estimates coastal impacts along the Delaware Estuary and Lake Erie.

Water levels in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Delaware Estuary are expected to rise by 2.1 feet by mid-century and 4.7 feet by the end of the century.

Along Lake Erie, Warmer temperatures and increased extreme precipitation events are anticipated to have substantial effect.

A 2017 report issued by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Friday “very heavy precipitation” has increased by 71 percent over the last 54 years in the Northeast and Pennsylvania putting the 831,000 people living on floodplains in the state at even more risk of flooding.  Read more here.

The report also made recommendations for changing the National Flood Insurance Program to address the economic impact on Pennsylvania.  Read more here.

Recent heavy and more localized storm events have caused significant damage in Pennsylvania, but many times not enough to reach the thresholds required to trigger a federal disaster declaration.

In 2018, storm events caused over $101.5 million in flood damage not covered by the federal government leaving state taxpayers to shoulder the burden.  Read more here.

The June 2018 update to Pennsylvania’s Federal Hazard Mitigation Plan submitted by the PA Emergency Management Agency to FEMA for the first time included a more “robust” evaluation of how climate change would affect the risk of flooding and other natural disasters in the state.

The Plan concluded, in part-- “Across the United States, natural and human-made disasters have led to increasing levels of deaths, injuries, property damage, and interruption of business and government services. This trend is projected to increase due to the impacts of climate change, therefore adding data, analysis, and action related to climate change was an important component of this plan update.”

The 4th National Climate Assessment issued in November of 2018 specifically pointed to an increase in extreme, recurring precipitation events in its assessment of impacts on the Northeast, including Pennsylvania.

The report said, “The recent dominant trend in precipitation throughout the Northeast has been towards increases in rainfall intensity, with increases in intensity exceeding those in other regions of the contiguous United States. Urban areas are at risk for large numbers of evacuated and displaced populations and damaged infrastructure due to both extreme precipitation events and recurrent flooding, potentially requiring significant emergency response efforts and consideration of a long-term commitment to rebuilding and adaptation, and/or support for relocation where needed.”

It continued, “Much of the infrastructure in the Northeast, including drainage and sewer systems, flood and storm protection assets, transportation systems, and power supply, is nearing the end of its planned life expectancy. Climate-related disruptions will only exacerbate existing issues with aging infrastructure.”

A 2020 report by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission found sea level rise caused by climate change will put $430 million worth of property, 42 miles of roadways, 75 community assets and 498 structures at risk in Southeast Pennsylvania.  Read more here

In December 202, Gov. Wolf announced an initiative to address flood hazard mitigation by requiring the State Planning Board to develop a series of recommendations and best practices relative to land use, planning, zoning, and stormwater management, with the emphasis on reducing the incidence of flash flooding in communities that impacts citizens and businesses.  Read more here.

The State Planning Board will establish state goals and strategic investments to assist municipalities, which will then be incorporated by state agencies into their appropriate funding applications.

Wolf had proposed his Restore Pennsylvania Plan beginning in the 2019-20 legislative session to address flood prevention and stormwater management needs, but no action was ever taken by the General Assembly. Read more here.


USA Today: Flood-Prone Homeowners Could See Major Rate Hikes In FEMA Flood Insurance Changes, New Study Finds

NPR: A Looming Disaster: New Data Reveal Where Flood Damage Is An Existential Threat

Related Articles:

-- Work The Problem, Cancel The Show: Environmental Funding Is About People, Not Numbers

-- DEP Climate Advisory Committee Meets Feb. 23 On Draft, Final Climate Impact Assessment - Flooding Is Highest Risk Hazard PA Faces [2021]

-- Gov. Wolf Announces Plan To Address Flooding Caused By Climate Change [2020]

-- DEP Coastal Zone Committee Jan. 15: $430 Million In Property Value At Risk On Southeast PA Coast Due To Climate Change, Regardless Of Greenhouse Gas Emission Limits [2020]

-- PEMA: Over $101.5 Million In Flood Damage Not Covered By Feds In 2018; Intense Flooding Events Increasing In PA [2019]

-- 4th National Climate Assessment: Climate Change Is Human Caused; Flooding, Wildfires, Health Impacts, Infrastructure, Economic Damage Will Increase Without Action [2018]

-- The Economic Value Of Green Infrastructure: Calculating A Return On Investments In Parks, Watershed Restoration, Farmland BMPs, Open Spaces [2018]

-- 71% Increase In Very Heavy Precipitation Events In Last 54 Years, 831,000 Pennsylvanians Living At Risk On Floodplains [2017]

[Posted: February 22, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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