Proposal Will Affect FEMA-Funded Construction Beyond 100-Year Floodplain

stormy weatherFEMA has proposed a rule that will require anyone using FEMA funds for new construction or to substantially improve existing structures to build two to three feet higher than the 100-year floodplain.

The regulations, proposed Monday, stem from an updated Floodplain Management Executive Order issued by President Obama in January 2015.

Other agencies, including HUD, are expected to issue their own FFRMS implementation regulations in the coming months.

E.O. 13690 created the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) which requires a higher level of flood protection for federally funded projects to protect taxpayer investment in light of climate change and increasing flood risk. All federal agencies must update their regulations and policies to implement the FFRMS.

In response to NAHB efforts last spring, the FEMA proposal clarifies that the FFRMS only applies to “FEMA Federally Funded Projects,” defined as “actions where FEMA funds are used for new construction, substantial improvement, or to address substantial damage to structures or facilities.”

FEMA has also made it clear that the new standard does not apply to the non-grant components of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), meaning it does not apply to the availability or cost of flood insurance policies. Also, the proposed rule does not have any effect on NFIP flood insurance maps.

However, post-disaster assistance for new construction or substantial improvement funded through FEMA assistance programs, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, will likely be required to comply with the FFRMS and build to the higher standard.

FEMA’s proposed rule is open for public comment until October 21, 2016. For more information,  contact Environmental Policy Program Director Owen McDonough at 202-266-8662 or Federal Legislative Director Billie Kaumaya at 202-266-8570.


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Comments (7)

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  1. mike says:

    More Fed intrusions into peoples’ lives.

  2. Mark Marrs says:

    Any idea how this EO may affect SBA guaranteed loans?

  3. The floodplain is very theoretical and will move significantly dependent on the development upstream and the absorption upstream. For this reason, in Atlanta metro, we have been using a freeboard height of 2-3 ft above 100 year numbers since the late 70’s or 80’s dependent on the municipality. As a 44 year veteran builder and developer, we need some federal programs to stay in place and be more realistic so to use a higher height than the 100 yr number is reasonable given the theory and lag time behind the calculations of the 100 yr number. Think of it like a margin of error.

  4. MAC SMITH says:

    In Columbia SC we are looking to raise homes to the 1000 YEAR FLOOD height to rebuild. This should save on those repairs that are still pending since our flooding in October which breached several dams in our city also forcing repairs in otherwise non-flood or low flood risk areas.
    I personally think this is a better solution.

  5. Phil Smith says:

    My personal experience is their maps are total crap and they are too arrogant to admit when they are wrong. Why are they still using computer matrixes when they have satellite imagery after major floods to show exactly what will happen, at least until there are changes up or downstream that could change them?

  6. Ken Miller says:


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