Cities begin to fill the void on floodplain regulation

InsideClimate News highlights Mexico Beach, Florida in a story about the trend of cities and towns ditching outdated FEMA guidelines on flood zones. A growing number of municipalities are requiring new buildings to be elevated in 500-year floodplains rather than just in 100-year floodplains.

The threat will only get worse as communities pack more development into low-lying areas and as global warming fuels more extreme weather, said Shana Udvardy, a climate resilience analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.


In the newest National Climate Assessment, published last fall, U.S. government scientists warned that global warming was intensifying and increasing the frequency of extreme rainstorms that cause devastating flooding. Hurricane rainfall and intensity are also likely to increase, as are the frequency and severity of “atmospheric rivers” of rain on the West Coast, like the event that drenched California last month, triggering flash floods and mudslides. Sea-level rise also makes storm surges more dangerous.


But FEMA hasn’t taken climate change into account when creating flooding maps.

Under the current federal administration, climate change mitigation strategies – cutting carbon emissions –have largely been left to cities and states. It appears that the same is true of climate change adaptation strategies – dealing with the impacts of climate change.