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Drawing lines: FEMA and the politics of mapping flood zones

Pralle, Sarah
Climatic change 2019 v.152 no.2 pp. 227-237
at-risk population, climate change, disasters, floods, insurance, politics, risk, United States
Flooding is the most common and damaging of all natural disasters in USA, and climate change is exacerbating the problem. Accurate flood maps are critical to communicating flood risk to vulnerable populations, to mitigating and adapting to floods, and to the functioning of the federal flood insurance program. Yet, we know little about how the mapping process works in practice. This article argues that politics can shape the remapping process in ways that leave communities vulnerable. Because mapping takes place within the context of the National Flood Insurance Program, the conversation at the local level often centers on the costs of revising the flood hazard zones rather than the risks associated with flooding. This can lead to less than optimal responses by individuals and communities, and suggests that the USA is not adequately preparing for future climate change impacts.