Climate change makes flood maps obsolete, says FEMA

Homes submerged by floodwaters in Jackson, Kentucky on July 28, 2022. LEANDRO LOZADA/AFP via Getty Images

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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell said the federal government’s flood maps are out of date following a series of disastrous floods from extreme levels of rainfall induced by climate change, reported The Guardian.

“The part that’s really difficult right now is the fact that our flood maps don’t account for the excessive rains that are coming in. And we’re seeing this record rainfall happening,” Criswell said Sunday of the state of the ‘CNN Union, as Bloomberg reported.

Flooding in Jackson, Mississippi recently caused water treatment pumps to fail, leaving 180,000 people in and around the capital without drinking water.

Criswell noted that the timeline for the water treatment plant to be functional again is unknown, Bloomberg reported.

Georgia was inundated by a deluge of heavy rain yesterday, leading to flash flooding and submerged roads, The Guardian reported. Up to 12 inches at the rate of one inch per hour of rain fell, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Due to the flash flooding, which submerged the Raccoon Creek Filtration Plant, Summerville residents were advised to boil tap water before drinking or cooking.

A state of emergency has been declared in Floyd and Chattooga counties by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

“This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation,” the NWS said, as reported by The Guardian. “Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area prone to flooding or under an evacuation order.”

Unpredictable extreme weather conditions due to climate change are difficult to predict.

“[W]We need to start thinking about what the threats will be in the future due to climate change, so they can put mitigation measures in place,” Criswell said, as reported by The Guardian.

The nonprofit First Street Foundation’s 2020 flood risk assessment looked at all properties in the lower 48 states and found that federal flood maps underestimated the number of homes and businesses by 67 percent. businesses at serious risk, Bloomberg reported.

“FEMA’s maps are currently really focused on river flooding and coastal flooding and we’re working with local jurisdictions to update the maps,” Criswell said, as reported by Bloomberg.

Centennial records were broken in Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri last month as rains wreaked havoc on communities.

“We’re not only seeing the age…and wear and tear on our system, but we’re seeing the effects of climate change,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said on ABC’s This Week, as reported by Bloomberg. “We have colder winters, hotter summers and more annual rainfall and all of this strains our water infrastructure.”

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Teresa H. Sadler