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Open Comment & Listening Sessions: Federal Flood Risk Management Standard FEMA

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

Hampton Roads from space, by NASA/JPL

Do you have an opinion on the new Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input? If so, now is the time to submit a public comment or attend one of several listening sessions that will be held around the U.S. throughout the month of March. See the FEMA website and below for more background on Executive Order 13690 and the public comment and listening sessions. One of the listening sessions will be held in Norfolk, VA. For more on how climate change, sea level rise, flooding and military installations intersect see this Op-ed by CAPT Toll and RADM Titley on the climate threat to Hampton Roads

According to FEMA, EO 13690 was created to make sure the U.S. is better prepared for current and future flood risks:

Between 1980 and 2013, the United States suffered more than $260 billion in flood-related damages.  On average, more people die annually from flooding than any other natural hazard.  Further, the costs borne by the Federal government are more than any other hazard.  Flooding accounts for approximately 85% of all disaster declarations.   With climate change, we anticipate that flooding risks will increase over time.  In fact, the National Climate Assessment (May 2014) projects that extreme weather events, such as severe flooding, will persist throughout the 21st century.  That damage can be particularly severe to our infrastructure, including our buildings, roads, ports, industrial facilities, and even our coastal military installations.

The new federal flood risk standard requires all future federal investments in and affecting floodplains to meet the level of resilience as established by the Standard.  For example, this includes where federal funds are used to build new structures and facilities or to rebuild those that have been damaged.

The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard builds on work done by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, which announced in April 2013 that all Sandy-related rebuilding projects funded by the Sandy Supplemental (Public Law 113-2) must meet a consistent flood risk reduction standard.  The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy recommended that the federal government create a national flood risk standard for Federally-funded projects beyond the Sandy-affected region.

The Standard specifically requires agencies to consider current and future risk when taxpayer dollars are used to build or rebuild floodplains.

In implementing the Standard, federal agencies will be given the flexibility to select one of three approaches for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design, and construction:

  • Utilizing best-available, actionable data and methods that integrate current and future changes in flooding based on science,
  • Two or three feet of elevation, depending on the criticality of the building, above the 100-year, or 1%-annual-chance, flood elevation, or
  • 500-year, or 0.2%-annual-chance, flood elevation.

Here is additional information on the open comment and listening sessions:

Prior to implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, additional input from stakeholders will be solicited and considered.  To carry out this process, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), on behalf of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG), published Draft Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input., for public comment  in the Federal Registeron February 5, 2015.  FEMA, on behalf of the MitFLG, will also be hosting public meetings to further solicit and consider stakeholder input.  At the conclusion of the public comment period on April 6, 2015, the MitFLG shall revise the draft Implementing Guidelines, based on input received, and provide recommendations to the Water Resources Council.

Agencies will not issue or amend existing regulations or program procedures until the Water Resources Council has issued amended Guidelines which have been informed by stakeholder input.

Submit Public Comments

FEMA is interested in getting input from all stakeholders regarding implementation of the Standard.

Comments on the Draft Guidelines for Implementing Executive Order, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, may be submitted  for 60 days, with a deadline of April 6, 2015 by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal:  Search for the notice in docket ID FEMA-2015-0006
  • Mail/Hand Delivery/Courier: Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 8NE, 500 C Street, SW, Washington, DC  20472-3100

Listening Sessions

FEMA, on behalf of the MitFLG, a collection of agencies with authorities and programs designed to mitigate the impacts of disasters on communities, will host listening sessions to ensure input is gathered on the Implementation of the Standard.

Due to space constraints of the facilities, seating may be limited.   To reserve a seat in advance, please provide a request via email at least three days in advance with the contact information of the participant (including name, mailing address, and e-mail address), the meeting to be attended, and send to and include the subject/attention line: Reservation Request for FFRMS.  For anyone attending the meetings who is hearing or visually impaired, or who requires special assistance or accommodations, please also contact

Listening Session Dates

Additional Listening Sessions to be scheduled and announced soon.

March 3, 2015
3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. (CT)
Iowa Water Conference Venue
Iowa State University
Scheman Bldg
Lincoln Way
Ames, Iowa 50011

March 5, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (CT)
Mississippi Recovery Office
220 Popps Ferry Road
Biloxi, Mississippi 39531

March 11, 2015
2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT)
California Office of Emergency Services
3650 Schriever Ave
Mather, CA 95655

March 11, 2015
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (ET)
Old Dominion University
Ted Constant Convocation Center
4320 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, VA 23529


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