Episode 1: FEMA and Flood Risk
Updated: Nov 5, 2022
Back in the day, floods were a regular occurrence in Contra Costa. Damming and undergrounding creeks alleviated most flooding, but there are still areas at substantial risk. And that’s before taking into account the effect of climate change.
We talk with Eric Simmons of FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Division about flood risk maps, flood insurance, and what local cities are doing. It’s a complicated situation.
You can check your own flood risk at one of the links below. Keep in mind that the risk assessments are based on historical trends.
First Street Foundation risk factor: https://firststreet.org/risk-factor/
National Flood Hazard Layer map viewer: https://msc.fema.gov/nfhl
Information on flood insurance: https://www.floodsmart.gov
How to adjust risks for climate change is a topic of much research and discussion right now. You may have seen the recent study warning that meg-floods may be as big a threat as mega-droughts as climate change revs up. Floods previously predicted to occur once every 100 years may occur as often as once every ten years – or two years. For reference, the storm last October, which resulted in significant flooding, was a 100 year storm; fortunately, it came at the end of the dry season, not in the middle of a wet season. The Contra Costa Flood Control District is contemplating how to build infrastructure to withstand the strains of future storm patterns. We may look at this in more depth in a future episode.