Rising seas and increasingly severe weather are expected to increase the areas of the United States at risk of floods by up to 45 percent by 2100, according to a first-of-its-kind report released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday. The report attributes only 30 percent of the increased risk of flooding to population growth; 70 percent is due to climate change. Climate change will likely make flood insurance much more expensive for the federal government, but also for individual policyholders. But this report finds that climate change is a major driver of increased flood risk, and FEMA is expected to start considering climate change as it draws up maps highlighting areas that could face future flooding. Right now, a number of homeowners who get their flood insurance from the federal government pay subsidized rates.


Whether it's 4 feet or 6 feet, rising seas cause shoreline erosion and recession, and create greater surge risk in the event of major storms. The FEMA report also notes that flooding around rivers will likely become worse in a warming world, due to changes in precipitation frequency and intensity. Population growth, which causes increases in paved areas and changes in runoff patterns and drainage systems, will affect the amount of flooding from rivers. The 257-page study has been in the works for nearly five years and was finally released by FEMA after multiple inquiries from Climate Desk and Mother Jones. These changes could double the number of flood-prone properties covered by the National Flood Insurance Program and drastically increase the costs of floods, the report finds.


FEMA designates what are known as special flood hazard areas, where there is a 1 percent risk in any given year of a major flood occurring. If future storm victims aren't forced to eat their losses, taxpayers may have to cover the difference.



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