Socioeconomic Implications of National Flood Insurance Policy Reform and Flood Insurance Rate Map Revisions
Boyden, Elizabeth E.
Frazier, T., Boyden, E.E. & Wood, E. (2020). Socioeconomic implications of national flood insurance policy reform and flood insurance rate map revisions. Natural Hazards. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-020-03990-1
Flooding exacerbated by climate change has resulted in more mandatory community participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The purpose of this research is social regulatory floodplain criteria that may have an impact on various socioeconomic factors at the county and sub-county level. Updated mapping can result in widespread changes to the NFIP Special Flood Hazard Area, while no socioeconomic vulnerability assessments are completed before changes in risk designation or subsidy elimination occurs. These changes can result in additional compulsory flood insurance policies, heightened policy costs, and ultimately produce socioeconomic barriers for lower-income residents. The objectives include demonstrating the potential nationwide implications of increasing community risk with these changes to national policy through a case study from Ada County, Idaho where FEMA began updating the floodplain maps in 2015. Ada County was chosen for being reflective of other communities that may be suffering similar impacts from NFIP policy. A sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach was employed using semi-structured interviews, spatial analysis, and the Spatially Explicit Resilience-Vulnerability (SERV) model to assess potential community impacts. Results indicate increased vulnerability in the revised floodplain. Total annual sales volume, employee numbers, industry sectors, and overall community vulnerability are higher in the revised floodplain. Interviews with community leaders corroborated these results. This case study provides a foundation for further research on the impacts of flood insurance on communities across the USA while discussing the social injustice of a national program that is likely promoting the upward distribution of wealth county by county.
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