Uncle Mike, Why can’t you rely on FEMA Flood Maps?

June 16, 2007

{“What that means is there’s a 99 percent chance it’s wrong,” said Joe Suhayda, a retired Louisiana State University professor with extensive experience in storm surge modeling. He is now working as a consultant, reviewing changes to flood elevations in Louisiana.} Wrong meaning the information in the FEMA flood mapping.
The Press Register from Mobile, Alabama cited faulty FEMA flood maps  around local River as the reason why a family’s home flooded three times in an 11 month period. The article was sponsored by the Newhouse News Service.

They may have been unlucky, but they were clearly misinformed, according to an analysis by The Press-Register of Mobile. The newspaper’s research indicates that many coastal Alabama homes are vulnerable to catastrophic hurricane damage due to errors and obsolete data in Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps.

As a result, Alabama homes are as vulnerable to widespread flooding as their neighbors in Mississippi and Louisiana, where Hurricane Katrina’s massive storm surge in August 2005 destroyed entire neighborhoods. That hurricane exposed problems with FEMA’s flood maps and, consequently, with the building and insurance requirements based on those maps.

Many Katrina victims didn’t realize their houses could succumb to a hurricane storm surge, so they never bought flood insurance. After the storm, thousands of coastal Mississippi and Louisiana homeowners found themselves with nothing but skeletal remains of their homes and the painful realization that they had misjudged their risk.

No one is faulting LSU for the lack of information with regards to Katrina’s entrance, however, LSU worked with USGS and several Louisiana State Government agencies on the Louisiana GIS CD.  Governor Blanco created another org GOSHEP – or something to that effect that was to report directly to her on emergent situations.  She claims to have created it, or the article I recieved the info from makes that claim.  The GIS CD, offered on-line in 2000-2001 cites that the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security was also responsible for some of the CD’s information.  I believe this pre-dated her term in office to Uncle Mike. Why the levee’s never made the CD, I do not understand as some of the lesser dams were located and identified.  While the individual parish’s according to the Louisiana constitution are responsible for their own emergency response, I have not been able to identify the responsibility in the chain of command structure with regards to the Governors Executive Orders.

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3 Responses to “Uncle Mike, Why can’t you rely on FEMA Flood Maps?”


  1. […] Uncle Mike, why can’t you rely on FEMA flood maps? […]


  2. […] Please read the previous post “Uncle Mike,…” […]


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