The National Wildlife Federation is urging officials at all levels to redraft flood plain maps. David Conrad of the National Wildlife Federation says congress is poised to reauthorize the federal flood insurance program — without addressing the recent, record flooding.
"Many Midwest communities have now experienced three of what have been termed greater than 100-year and as high as 500-year floods in 35 years. Many citizens are rightly angry and devastated that they are not being given accurate risk information," he says. "In addition, many areas have experienced failures of levees that they were led to believe would protect their property, but they were never designed for such magnitude floods."
According to Conrad, it’s time to adjust the federal flood insurance program take into account global warming and the prospect of more frequent and more intense rainstorms. "Because current methods of estimating flood levels and setting insurance rates look backwards and are based on only on past flood history rather than looking forward to anticipate future conditions from land development and other changing conditions, the program continues to result in more and more buildings in expanding flood-prone areas and skyrocketing damages," Conrad says. "With risks and frequency of serious flooding increasing, congress needs to direct FEMA to adjust its standards to reduce risk levels from future floods."
Conrad says current federal rules allow construction of levees that exacerbate flooding elsewhere. It’s time to change the overall management of flood plains, according to Conrad. "Anticipating the impacts of climate change and changes in watersheds and the rivers to help communities be safe and improve overall environmental health," Cornad says.
Conrad points to a Southern Illinois University report which indicates federal forecasts of flooding are too low and fail to take into effect the effects of climate change.