Daniel Webster’s bio on his congressional website states that his academic and work background is in engineering. Unfortunately, he seems to abandon his technical knowledge by declaring that he’ll help fight FEMA’s updated flood zone maps for the county.
FEMA’s flood hazard mapping (which involves computer modeling) follows a rigorous set of guidelines, standards and technical references. It uses updated data on, for example, surface water; groundwater; tidal elevations; soils; wetlands; past storm events; land development; and the types, elevation and locations of structures (drainage, roads, houses, businesses, other buildings).
The maps cannot be appealed just because someone doesn’t like what they show. According to FEMA’s appeal regulations (44 CFR Part 67) and guidance, appellants must provide “alternative analyses” that incorporate the “methodologies, assumptions or data” to make their case. They should be “prepared to perform coastal, hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, to plot new and/or revised Flood Profiles, and to delineate revised (floodway) boundaries as necessary.” All of this technical information, required to be certified by registered professional engineers or licensed land surveyors, only succeeds if the draft maps are shown to be “scientifically or technically incorrect.”
Given the cost and breadth of technical research and verification needed to successfully refute a draft FEMA flood hazard map, can anyone take seriously Webster’s claim that “it’s just a matter of pushing hard” against FEMA?
We, as taxpayers, are paying time and time again to rebuild roads, schools, emergency response offices, public parks and cleanup debris. The federal flood insurance program is not fully supported by premiums. The goal of accurate and updated flood hazard mapping is ultimately “to reduce the potential for loss of life and property.” This worthy goal is jeopardized when homeowners, businesses and community leaders cannot access the most up-to-date maps in order to plan for the future and make wise decisions about how to spend their money without undue risk.