Drag and drop into an RSS reader  TipSheet item

Publication date: Jul. 19, 2006


After Hurricane Katrina, levees and floodplains have become hot topics in states other than Louisiana.

In California's huge Central Valley, which has miles and miles of levees, the topic is so dicey that more than a dozen state politicians have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to delay the planned October 2006 release of floodplain maps, according to Hank Shaw's June 25, 2006, Stockton Record article.

One reason for the requested delay is that the politicians are concerned that voters could get riled up right before the fall elections, because many may discover they would be underwater in a routine 100-year flood. Along with concern over that physical threat is the wallet threat, since one remedy would be costly major repairs and revisions to many levees, possibly requiring tax increases.

Some of the politicians involved in the delaying strategy with FEMA may be playing multiple sides of the flooding issue. While Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) doesn't want to see lands designated as flood-prone, he's also actively solicited taxpayer dollars to bail out constituents who were flooded in spring 2006 (release).

Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) is pushing for major funding for levee repairs, and is peeved that the environmental review process is slowing down construction. He's also pushing for more dams, and expansion and reconstruction of existing facilities, to help control floods (release). In addition, he has been involved with numerous legislative efforts addressing floodplains (home page; in upper left corner, search for "flood" and "floodplain").

FEMA regularly revises floodplain maps all over the country, whether or not levees are involved. To find existing floodplains in your community, go to FEMA's Product Catalog, click on the first item, "FEMA Issued Flood Maps," and choose your state, county, and community.

To see if there have been recent floodplain changes, go further down that page and click on "Letters of Map Change." To search for a specific floodplain, you'll need the correct code for the map, which you may need to get from local officials. If you want to review the many revisions around the country each year, it'll cost a little money.

To find out if a floodplain of interest to your audience is on tap for a revision soon, go here, where you'll find the latest approved version of the Multi-Year Flood Hazard Identification Plan (with some tweaking expected soon), and a draft of the next version. These documents detail when local floodplain maps will be updated, how much it will cost, and when the final map(s) and text will be delivered to the community. After receiving the documents, each community generally takes 6-18 months to review and approve the final floodplain.

The current 5-year plan anticipates updates for about two-thirds of the nation's 90,000 floodplain maps, with the updates covering about 93% of the population.

Last revised January 22, 2013

The Society of Environmental Journalists
P.O. Box 2492 Jenkintown, PA 19046
Telephone: (215) 884-8174 Fax: (215) 884-8175


© 1994-2016 Society of Environmental Journalists
The SEJ logo is a registered trademark ® of the Society of Environmental Journalists. Neither the logo nor anything else from the sej.org domain may be reproduced without written consent of the Society of Environmental Journalists.