Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Southern Vermont Floodplain Manager Position: Application due 12/4/2014

Hello all,

We wanted to announce that our Southern Vermont Floodplain Manager position is out-for-hire at this time.  Please note that the on-line application deadline closes 12/4/2014. If you would like more information about this position, please contact Rob Evans at

Environmental Analyst IV AC: General
Environmental Conservation

General Information 

This position, (Environmental Analyst IV, Job Opening # 616053), is open to all State employees and external applicants.

Resumes will not be accepted via e-mail.  You must apply online to be considered.

This position is within the River Corridor and Floodplain Protection section of the Vermont Rivers Program. The Regional Floodplain Manager will provide regulatory support and technical assistance to individuals, municipalities, consultants, and agencies of state and federal government regarding development proposals in river corridors and floodplains in southern Vermont. The position supports multiple regulatory jurisdictions including the State Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Rule, municipal land use permitting, and Act 250. The position requires working both independently and collaboratively to evaluate development proposals for regulatory compliance and recommend alternative courses of action to minimize conflicts between river/floodplain dynamics and human investments. This position requires strong written and verbal communication skills, and must work well with the public and include education in each interaction.


Preferred Qualifications 
Preference will be given to candidates with a strong combination of the following: working knowledge of the National Flood Insurance Program; experience reviewing and analyzing site plans, grading plans, and related engineering and surveying schematics; knowledge of riverine hydrology/hydraulics and fluvial geomorphology.


 Minimum Qualifications 

Education: Bachelor's degree in a biological-life or physical science, engineering, or an environmental or natural resources field.

Experience: Four years at a professional level in an environmental or natural resources field.


Two years as an Environmental Analyst III.

NOTE: Graduate Degree in an environmental or natural resources field may be substituted for up to two years of experience on a semester for six months basis.




 Submission of Application 
 Should you submit an application for this job opening, you certify that all information entered is correct and complete to the best of your knowledge.  By submitting an application, you acknowledge and understand that the State of Vermont may verify information, and that untruthful or misleading answers are cause for rejection of this application, and/or dismissal if employed with the State of Vermont.


 Equal Employment Opportunity 

 The State of Vermont is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  Applications from women, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and people from diverse cultural backgrounds are encouraged.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bennington County - Appeal Period for Flood Hazard Maps

A new/second appeal period for the Bennington County flood hazard maps will begin next week and continue for ninety days until February 10, 2015.

The Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) can be viewed online at the FEMA Map Service Center.   The currently effective FIRM maps can also be found on the MSC.  You can search by address to find the correct map, however the currently effective maps do not have an aerial photograph in the background.

The Preliminary DFIRM data can also be found on the VT ANR Natural Resource Atlas   Use “Quick Tools” to “Zoom to Town” or “Find an Address”.

Here is some FEMA information that may be of use:

This is the last formal window for communities to make minor corrections or to supply scientific or technical data that would replace the information in the Preliminary Flood Insurance Study and DFIRM.   Communities that receive appeals and supporting data from individuals should consolidate and review any appeal data from individuals.   Whether or not the community chooses to appeal please send copies of individual appeals and supporting data to:

Justin King, Project Manager Stantec, 5565 Centerview Drive, Suite 107; Raleigh, NC 27606 

After February and any appropriate changes, there will Letter of Final Determination and a six-month adoption period.  It is likely that the Bennington County DFIRM will become effective next fall.

This is a very good time to look at the Preliminary DFIRM data to better understand inundation flood risks near your location.

For more information on the flood hazard maps, appeals and Letters of Map Amendment please contact a FEMA Map Specialist at

The FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX).
(877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627)

After the data becomes effective changes can still be made through the Letter of Map Change process. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Draft DEC Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Protection Procedure - Comments Invited through Nov. 3

By the Department of Environmental Conservation
October 6, 2014
The Vermont General Assembly passed Act 138 in 2012 requiring the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) to adopt a Procedure that will:
Outline methods for assessing the sensitivity (i.e., stability) of rivers in the state; delineating river corridors based on sensitivity; and identifying where flood and fluvial erosion hazards pose a probable risk of harm to life, property, or public infrastructure;
Aid and support the municipal adoption of river corridor, floodplain, and buffer bylaws; and
Recommend best management practices for river corridors, floodplains, and buffers.

Acts 138 and Act 107 also required the State to adopt a Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Rule with the authority to set standards in exceedance of the minimum regulatory standards required by the National Flood Insurance Program administered by FEMA. The Administrative Rule will apply to activities exempt from municipal regulation, i.e., state building and transportation projects, public utilities, and agricultural and silvicultural activities. The proposed Rule would establish a “no adverse impact” (NAI) standard, which essentially limits proposed state facilities or utilities from making any change in the height or velocity of floodwater that would increase inundation or erosion hazards.
The draft Flood Hazard Area and River Corridor Protection Procedure (attached) explains how the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will utilize the same “no adverse impact” standard in providing technical assistance and regulatory recommendations to municipalities, Act 250, and other regulatory agencies. While NAI is the standard ANR has applied since 2004 in making Act 250 recommendations and under Criterion 1D for the NFIP floodway and the ANR river corridor1, it is a higher standard to be met in the flood hazard area outside of the NFIP floodway recommending measures of compensatory storage when necessary.

The Procedures also explain how:
a) Flood hazard areas, river corridor, and Act 250 floodways are delineated;
b) Flood hazard area and river corridor maps are amended or revised by the Department and other parties;
c) Waivers from the NAI standard are used to encourage land use planning for infill, redevelopment, and the shadowing of other structures; and
d) Best practices may be used to promote stream and floodplain equilibrium conditions and the natural attenuation of flood sediments, heights, and velocities that influence flood inundation and fluvial erosion.
The River Corridor and Floodplain Protection Program will accept public comments until November 3, 2014. Written comments should be addressed to or DEC Rivers Program, Watershed Management Division, 1 National Life Drive, Main 2, Montpelier, VT 05620-3522

1 ANR River Corridors are calculated and field-measured areas providing for the stream dynamics, meanders, and the riparian buffers necessary for the restoration and protection of naturally stable or least erosive river forms. Corridors show an area where any stream channelization measures used to protect development or other improvements contribute to an increase in fluvial erosion upstream and downstream and adversely affect public safety, riparian landowners, and river ecosystems.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

ASFPM 2015 - Call for Presenters!

Hello all,

It is October, so that means that presentation and abstract deadlines are on the horizon for the Association of State Floodplain Manager's (ASFPM's) 2015 Annual National Conference in Atlanta, GA!
May 31 - June 5, 2015 
Hyatt Regency Atlanta 
Atlanta, Georgia

Every year, the ASFPM Call for Presenters deadline is on October 31st, so it is time to pull together ideas for both Concurrent Session presentations and Workshop submissions for this end of the month deadline.  The 2015 National Conference theme is Mitigation on My Mind.  The Call for Presenters is seeking a broad range of professionals to address the many issues and problems associated with managing flood risk, making communities more sustainable, and protecting floodplain and natural resources.

Abstract are due by October 31.  Go to the conference website and follow directions for the on-line submission.

In the past, there have been more than double the number of abstracts submitted to number of presentation openings available for concurrent session speakers. To increase your odds of being selected as a speaker for the concurrent sessions, you can review the 2015 Speaker Tips Brochure.

Questions?  Contact ASFPM Conference Planner Chad Ross at

Friday, September 19, 2014

When Governments Cooperate: State Government Municipal Day - November 13, 2014

  NOVEMBER 13, 2014
8 am - 4:15 pm

Our inaugural Municipal Day in March 2014 proved so popular that we were unable to accommodate all who wished to attend. For that reason, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), in cooperation with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), invites you to participate in a second all-day event that will include poster presentations, workshops, and the opportunity to engage with Agency staff members and municipal colleagues from across the state. 


The $30 Registration Fee includes morning coffee and a buffet lunch by the New England Culinary Institute.

Complete workshop descriptions and registration details can be found here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Free FEMA Trainings in Vermont, 9/15-9/17

We have been able to arrange a few different FEMA trainings to be offered around Vermont next week.  All of the trainings are FREE, but space is limited, so be sure to RSVP to Morgaine Bell of the Vermont Rivers Program ASAP.

These classes are geared towards local zoning administrators, local and regional planners, consultants and engineers, but all are welcome.  And please note that you need not be from Vermont to attend!  So please send a link to this post to anyone you think may be interested in these classes.  

We will have the trainings pre-approved for Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) Continuing Education Credits (CECs) as well, so this will be a great way to get some additional CECs in for this year.  


Monday, September 15th
Act 250 Conference Room, Fish & Wildlife Building
111 West Street, Essex Junction VT

8am-12pm: Coastal Construction
1pm-5pm: Floodplain Management

Tuesday, September 16th
St. Albans Free Library
11 Maiden Lane, St. Albans VT
8am-12pm: Coastal Construction

Winooski Conference Room
1 National Life Drive - Main 2, Montpelier VT
12pm-4pm: Intro to CRS and CRS Quick Check

Wednesday, September 17th
Welcome Center
3 Railroad Ave, Windsor VT
8am-12pm: Floodplain Management

Intro to Community Rating System (CRS)
This short session is designed for local officials interested in learning more about the Community Rating System (CRS).  CRS recognizes community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards. Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, and protect the environment. More information about CRS is available online at:

CRS Quick Check
The Community Rating System (CRS) Quick Check is a new tool developed to help communities join the CRS.
The objective of the CRS Quick Check is to show that the community is doing enough floodplain management activities above and beyond the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program to warrant 500 credit points, enough to be a CRS Class 9 or better. This workshop is designed to assist communities that are interested in applying for CRS by discussing the more common activities that CRS communities receive credit for and what documentation would be needed to support the credited points. The Quick Check is available online at: 
Please bring your completed checklist and/or questions to this class.

Intro to Floodplain Management (NFIP 101)
This introductory course is designed to provide an organized training opportunity for local officials responsible for administering their local floodplain management ordinance. The course will focus on the NFIP and concepts of floodplain management, maps and studies, ordinance administration, and the relationship between floodplain management and flood insurance. The FEMA Elevation Certificate (EC) and Map Service Center (MSC) website will also be discussed briefly during the course.

Intro to Coastal Residential Construction
This intense workshop is intended to give attendees an overview of the contents of FEMA’s Coastal Construction Manual and to provide information on how to ensure one- to four-family residential buildings in coastal areas are properly sited, designed, constructed, and maintained. This course is a compressed version of the E386 Residential Coastal Construction held over 4 days at EMI yearly.  In addition, staff of the VT Watershed Management Division’s Lakes and Ponds Program will be providing information about how these coastal construction techniques may overlap with the new Vermont Shoreland Permit Program.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August NFIP Trainings

Hello all,

I’d like to present the upcoming free, online trainings available through STARR. These trainings cover a variety of topics, from the NFIP basics through specifics of elevation certificates, and are presented by STARR staff, FEMA, and State organizations. Many of the courses are eligible for CEC credits for Certified Floodplain Managers.

Please feel free to register for any courses you are interested in attending, and invite or pass information on these courses on to potentially interested communities or organizations in your states. Also, if you are interested in using this online platform for any trainings that your state would like to present, STARR can support you in that effort. Please let me know if you’d like additional information on hosting online trainings.

and click the “Upcoming” tab. Below are the courses offered in August:

August 27, 1:00 pm Eastern – Floodplain Development Permit Review
This 90-minute session will highlight eight basic steps to reviewing development inside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This is beginner training, recommended for those new to the role of floodplain administrator. 1 CEC for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers.

August 28, 1:00 pm Eastern – Inspecting Floodplain Development
This beginner two-hour session will highlight special considerations for plan reviewers and building inspectors when evaluating and inspecting development inside the Special Flood Hazard Area, including basic concepts and terminology, minimum construction standards (from the IBC/IRC), and conducting inspections. 2 CECs for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers.

In addition, here is a summary of courses currently scheduled in September. Additional courses may be added, so check for the current list:

Sep 4, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- NFIP Basics
Sep 16, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Preparing an Annual Recertification Sep 17, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Drainage System Maintenance
Sep 18, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Elevation Certificates

Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you!

Alex Sirotek, GISP, CFM
FEMA Region 1 Service Center
99 High Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Is Your Community Flood Ready?

How will post-disaster funding for communities change in October?  
What does your community need to do?  
Is you community planning in order to avoid flood damage?

Visit the new Flood Ready Vermont website to find out.  

Flood Ready Vermont has the tools and data your community needs to:

Use the Flood Ready Atlas to help you identify what is working to keep your community flood resilient and where structures are at risk.  Community Reports quickly compile useful information for your municipal and hazard mitigation plans.  

Flood Ready Vermont is a place where community leaders can share information and ideas to make our communities more flood resilient.  

Funding for the design of the website was provided by the High Meadows Fund, promoting vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long term economic vitality in Vermont; and through a Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant.

Early partners to inspire and help launch the site include the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC) and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), as ably represented by David Deen, Upper Valley River Steward for CRWC; Angela Mrozinski, Outreach Director for CRWC; Ron Rhodes, North Country River Steward for CRWC; and Anthony Iarrapino, Senior Attorney for CLF.

The website development and design team was led by Daniel Shearer, Tamarack Media Cooperative, and Beka Mandell, Webskillet Cooperative.

Let us know what you think and tell your story about working for flood resilience!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

EPA is looking for feedback on Clean Water Act jurisdiction

Some readers may have heard a little bit about the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) creating a rule having to do with the Clean Water Act.  A few years ago, a US Supreme Court Decision made it clear that the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) needed to clarify which streams and wetlands were under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.  The result has been a scientific literature review and a proposed rule.  With the proposed rule, not much has actually changed in what is regulated and how.  A lot of the rule is focused on clarifying that tributaries to major, navigable rivers are protected and that wetlands which are connected to downstream waters are also covered by the Clean Water Act.

Part of the update was also for EPA to expand the exemptions for agricultural production.  These exemptions are in addition the those that are already established.  There have been questions about what type of agricultural activities are going to be regulated, so the EPA has compiled facts about the proposed rule and the agricultural exemptions.  In some groups, there are concerns that too many farming activities are going to be exempted, while there has been quite a push-back from others about the new rule with the misconception that more agricultural activities are going to be regulated.  The EPA's sites are trying to clarify just what would and would not be under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Flood Map for Richmond Goes Into Effect Aug. 4 Last Chance to Grandfather Flood Zone

An updated flood map will become effective in the Town of Richmond on August 4, 2014. Flood Insurance Rate Maps are produced by FEMA to identify flood hazard risks for the National Flood Insurance Program.  The current and future flood hazard maps are viewable at the Richmond Town Center Building.  The current map is also online at the FEMA map service center .  To view the new maps (upcoming Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM)) please visit the Vermont Flood Ready Atlas at

Owners of buildings in Richmond should be aware of the flood risks shown on the new map.  Over one hundred buildings currently identified as in low risk locations will be reclassified as being in high risk locations when the new map goes into effect. If a building is currently identified as in a low risk location, and later will be in a high risk location, a special low cost insurance opportunity is available to those who obtain flood insurance immediately before the map change.

The Town of Richmond has worked with Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission to help identify buildings in or near the area of map change.  Please remember that the official version of the current map (July 5, 1982) is actually the paper (or .pdf) version of the map.  Contact the Richmond Town Planner at 434-2430 or for more information.

Buildings identified as going from low risk to high risk during the map change are eligible to obtain flood insurance now at the lowest rate.  If the policy with the grandfathered rate zone is maintained it can be passed on to future owners. Structures in the area of map change that do not have an active policy (check deposited) by the time the new designation goes into effect will have access to a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) in the first year, then rates will gradually increase to the full costs for a property considered high risk. Please note that the policy must be paid, processed and fully in effect before August 4th to qualify for lower rates. To get flood insurance or more information on grandfathering contact the agent that provides your homeowner’s insurance or find an agent using

Flood insurance is rated for the highest risk area that any part of the building touches.   Any mortgage or loan to a building in the Special Flood Hazard Area must have insurance for the flood risk. In Richmond, most of the structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area as identified on the new map do not have flood insurance and would benefit by immediately securing insurance.

The Town of Richmond has reached out to people in the area of change to inform them of their need to get insurance.  Affected residents who wish to obtain grandfathered status and rates should not delay. Flood insurance must be paid, processed and in effect by August 4th in order to achieve grandfathered status.

Friday, May 16, 2014

CRS Webinar Trainings Available

The CRS offers webinars and workshops to help communities with their CRS requirements. If you are interested in having a webinar on the 2013 Coordinator’s Manual, the FEMA Elevation Certificate, or any other activity, contact your ISO/CRS Specialist. The following one-hour topical webinars are on the calendar, and others can be scheduled as needed. Many of these will be recorded, so they can be accessed later.

Registration is free, but required, as space is limited. Some courses provide continuing education credits for Certified Floodplain Managers (CFMs). For more details and to register, go to
            All webinars begin at 1:00 pm EST
--Introduction to the CRS— May 20, 2014; July 15, 2014; October 21, 2014; December 16, 2014
--Activity 430 (Higher Regulatory Standards)—  May 21, 2014
--Preparing for a Verification Visit with the 2013 Coordinator’s Manual—June 17, 2014; November 18, 2014
--Natural Floodplain Functions— June 18, 2014; August 20, 2014
--Activity 540 (Drainage System Maintenance) — July 16, 2014; September 17, 2014
--Preparing for the Annual CRS Recertification— August 19, 2014; September 16, 2014
--Developing Outreach Projects under Activity 330— October 22, 2014
--Activity 610 (Flood Warning and Response) — November 19, 2014
--Developing a Program for Public Information under Activity 330 or a Coverage Improvement Plan under Activity 370, and Using FloodSmart Tools— December 17, 2014
Some of the other webinars anticipated in 2014 and 2015 are
--CRS Credit for Mapping and Regulations: The 400 Series
--CRS Credit for Flood Damage Reduction: The 500 Series
--The CRS and Climate Change.

For more on the CRS webinar series, to register, and to obtain agendas and required materials, go to If you have questions about the CRS Webinar Series or suggestions for future topics, please contact

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Planning for Increasing Precipitation and Flooding

A recent article was published in the New York Times on 5/12/14 - "Looks Like Rain Again.  And Again."  In the article, the author cites past studies from 2 decades ago or earlier that predicted the changes in our climate that we are now living through, namely increased precipitation during storm events.  Long term climate data has shown that the Northeastern US has seen a dramatic increase in precipitation amounts falling during storm events.  And when there is an increase in the amount of rain or snow falling during a storm, it usually ends up resulting in a greater frequency of flooding in places that have traditionally acted as floodplains.  Another result may be that people may start to see areas that had very rarely flooded in the past flood on a somewhat regular basis.  Some of these thoughts and ideas can be seen in a New York Times blog post "Three Long Views of Life With Rising Seas" that contains 3 interviews focused on how humans may look to deal with impacts from sea level rise.

This isn't the first time that we have seen evidence of increasing precipitation in the Northeastern US.  If anyone reading this has been to one of our presentations to communities, you may have seen a graphic that was taken from a report that was released from the White House Council on Environmental Quality -"Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force: Recommended Actions in Support of a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (10/2010)".  This report found that there had been a 67% increase in the amount of precipitation that was falling during the heaviest storm events each year.  That means that the biggest storm events that we experience each year is bringing more rain or snow on average.

I think that many Vermont communities have been experiencing this increase in precipitation and flooding first hand.  Some of you may already be aware of the ANR Flood Resilience Sharepoint website.  This website aims to include information that individuals and community officials can use to better prepare for the increased flooding and precipitation that we have been experiencing around the State and in New England.  This Sharepoint site will be replaced this summer by a collaborative website that will be called Flood Ready.  The intent of the Flood Ready website is to expand upon the information that can be found on the ANR Flood Resilience Sharepoint site and present it in a way that can be helpful to a wide range of users.

Have you been noticing changes in your own community?  What steps have you been taking to try to address this issue?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vermont Bill H.676 Was Signed into Law on 4/17/2014

Ok... So what is bill H.676? Why are we posting information about this change here?  For those of you who are not following the Vermont legislative session as closely as March Madness brackets or the latest episode of Game of Thrones, it is a pretty short but effective bill at helping to clean up inconsistencies in Vermont statute with regards to floodplain protections.  The final bill that was passed by the House and Senate (which can be found here) makes two amendments to existing statute.  At this time, I do not know if it has a final "Act" number.

The first change was to Act 138 from the 2012 Legislative session that established authority for ANR to create a State Floodplain Rule.  This State Floodplain Rule would apply for uses and development exempt from local municipal regulation (aka 24 VSA 4413 statute).  This state rule would really only apply to a few limited categories of uses: State owned and operated facilities, Accepted Agricultural Practices, Accepted Silvicultural Practices, and public utility power-generating and transmission facilities subject to regulation by the Public Service Board.  Act 138 was not clear on whether or not the ANR would have the ability to include the regulation of river corridor areas in addition to FEMA's mapped Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) in the State Floodplain Rule.  The first part of H.676 helps to clarify that there is authority for regulating development in both the SFHA and the river corridor for these limited categories of projects.  Therefore, it will be an ANR State Floodplain & River Corridor Rule which will include river corridor protections for that limited list of municipally exempt development.

The second change was made to 24 VSA statute 4413 to clarify municipal jurisdiction around limited uses and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  For most of the traditional uses and development that a community has limited authority to regulate, the community now has the authority to regulate those uses for compliance with both the community's NFIP standards and any river corridor standards.  This development would include:

  • Community-owned and operated institutions and facilities;
  • Public and private schools and other educational institutions;
  • Churches and other places of worship;
  • Public and private hospitals;
  • Regional solid waste management facilities;
  • Construction of hazardous waste management facilities
H. 676 makes it clear that our ANR State Floodplain & River Corridor Rule would not apply to these types of development, but would otherwise be reviewed by the community against its own flood hazard area requirements.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Update on the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA)

Last week we had provided news about the US Congress passing the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) at the end of March.  Since then, FEMA has published an overview of the the bill found on their website and in the FEMA Resource Library.  This overview document can also be found on our Flood Hazard Management webpage.

We have also started to get some information on how HFIAA will impact people in Vermont specifically, as well as the impacts to flood insurance nationally.  Here is a short summary:

  • It will take some time to start to implement provisions of the new law:
    • In the short term, there may still be individuals that get hit with full actuarial rates due to a new policy on a preFIRM residence (home built before the first Flood Insurance Rate Maps were created).  This new policy could be due to a lapsed flood insurance policy or a new policy being written due to a transfer of the property and/or a requirement by a lender for flood insurance;
    • There will also be a lag for people who will be expecting refunds due to the change in their flood insurance premium as a result of the HFIAA.
  • If you are a property owner living in Bennington County or in the Town/Village of Richmond here in Vermont:  FEMA will be releasing new preliminary or effective DFIRMs in the coming year.  Richmond's new DFIRMs are scheduled to become effective on 8/2/2014.  Bennington County's new DFIRMs are anticipated to become effective about one year from now (March 2015).  If the new preliminary DFIRMs show your house to be located in the mapped flood hazard area where you had not been shown to be located in the flood hazard area on previous FIRMs, you may be eligible for a grandfathered flood insurance rating.  Anyone who may be eligible for receiving grandfathered flood insurance rates is encouraged to get flood insurance BEFORE the new DFIRMs become effective for your community.  For more information regarding FEMA's grandfathering policy, please see an earlier post that was written for the Washington County map update process.  Please note that the estimated flood insurance premiums discussed may be different due to the effects of either Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) or HFIAA.  
UPDATE **For Properties newly mapped into the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area: your first year would be rated as a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) rate - i.e. as if you are not located in the flood hazard area.  Policy ratings in subsequent years would be based on the same phase-in method used to eliminate pre-FIRM suubsidies.

  • Flood Insurance premiums are going up for everyone.  While the HFIAA is allowing a phase-in of higher rates for primary homeowners, the law is still enabling a push for all policies to eventually reach full actuarial rates.  Property owners should seriously consider mitigating their home or structure(s) to reduce their flood risk and reduce the cost of flood insurance.  Additional information about mitigating your home or structure can be found on the VT Flood Resilience Sharepoint site found under either "Step 5: Insure" or "Step 3: Reduce".  

If you are a local official or someone else that may be helping individuals affected by the changes from the HFIAA, the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) will be offering two upcoming webinars in May and June focused on the changes to Biggert Waters 2012 from HFIAA (see dates below).  From the ASFPM announcement, the first webinar in early April filled up and these two follow up webinars are also expected fill up quickly.  
Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) of 2014 (AKA Grimm-Waters 2014) meets Biggert-Waters 2012: Impacts and Implications
Learn how the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act modifies and expands on BW-12 implications
1 core CEC for CFMs
$30 for ASFPM Individual Members*
$45 ASFPM Chapters/Agencies/Corporate Partners*
$60 Non-members
*Members must enter the event promo code at registration to receive the preferred rate.  ASFPM members should register through the ASFPM Membership Login page.  

More information about the webinars can found by clicking on the webinar flyer links below:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 - What's Changed from BW12?

After many of the new provisions of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW12) started going into effect, we had written about discussions and a US Senate bill that was working its way through Congress to roll back many of the BW12 provisions.  While there were many issues that seemed to need some working out, chief among them affordability provisions for the new rates and increasing funding for mitigation projects, a final bill was sent from the House of Representatives to the Senate and was voted on on 3/13/2014.  The President signed the new Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) into law on 3/21/ 2014.

The new HFIAA certainly does not repeal all of BW12.  You can see a comprehensive list of all of the changes included in the HFIAA that was compiled by the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) - Analysis of HFIAA, but here are some of the more prominent provisions and changes resulting from the passage of the bill:

  • Repeals provision that triggered full-risk insurance rates for pre-FIRM properties;
  • All policyholders will receive an annual surcharge on their flood insurance bill: $25 for primary residences, $250 for all other properties;
  • Changes the annual flood insurance policy rate increase cap from a maximum of 20% to a maximum of 15%;
  • Establishes a maximum cap of 18% per year in premiums increases on any individual properties (exceptions are noted in the ASFPM Analysis of HFIAA);
  • The Act establishes a new, slower path to full-risk rates for some properties (increasing premiums by at least 5% per year) where grandfathering is not possible;
  • Provides for some exceptions and options to escrow flood insurance premiums during a real estate closing;
  • Increases the residential deductible limits to $10,000 from $5,000
For more information about the background on the passage of BW12 and HFIAA, there is a good article that was published in Slate Magazine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Even More Free Webinar Trainings

This announcement from Alex Sirotek of STARR, a FEMA service contractor.  Alex's email contains more information about upcoming webinars offered through STARR.  If you have any questions about the webinars, please contact Alex (information at the end of the post).

Hello all,

I’d like to present the upcoming free, online trainings available through STARR. These trainings cover a variety of topics, from the NFIP basics through specifics of elevation certificates, and are presented by STARR staff, FEMA, and State organizations. Many of the courses are eligible for CEC credits for Certified Floodplain Managers.

Please feel free to register for any courses you are interested in attending, and invite or pass information on these courses on to potentially interested communities or organizations in your states. Also, if you are interested in using this online platform for any trainings that your state would like to present, STARR can support you in that effort. Please let me know if you’d like additional information on hosting online trainings.

and click the “Upcoming” tab. Below are the courses offered in March:  

March 12, 12:00 pm Eastern – NFIP Basics
This one-hour session will cover the history of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), basic terminology, governing authority and provide an overview of the community's role in floodplain management through the NFIP.  The target audience are state and local officials who need a general understanding of the ins and outs of the program and guidance on where to go for more training and answers.  Continuing Education and Professional Development Credits are available.

March 13, 1:00 pm Eastern – Elevation Certificates for A Zones
Training on the proper way to complete FEMA Form 81-31 and best practices for using the Elevation Certification in the floodplain development review process. Special consideration to using the form in A Zone without a BFE.  2 CECs for ASFPM Certified Floodplain Managers (CFMs) that register and attend individually and pass the learning objectives quiz at the end of the session.  

March 18, 1:00 pm Eastern – CRS Webinar Series: Introduction to CRS
This one-hour session will introduce FEMA's Community Rating System, how it operates, the costs and benefits for communities, where to get help, and how to apply.  The target audience is local officials, floodplain managers, and members of the public interest in flood protection.  The Community Rating System (CRS) provides reduced premiums for flood insurance policy holders in communities that implement programs and activities that exceed the minimum criteria for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.  If your community conducts floodplain mapping, regulatory, loss reduction, emergency management, and/or public information activities, you could benefit from this program.  1 CEC for CFMs.

March 19, 1:00 pm Eastern – CRS Webinar Series: Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
This one-hour session will review CRS Activity 430 (Higher Regulatory Standards).  1 CEC for CFMs.

In addition, here is a summary of courses currently scheduled in April.  Additional courses may be added, so check for the current list:
Apr 9, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013
Apr 15, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Preparing for a Verification Visit
Apr 16, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- CRS Webinar Series: Developing Outreach Projects
Apr 17, 2014, 1:00 PM Eastern- Elevation Certificates
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you!

Alex Sirotek, GISP, CFM
FEMA Region 1 Regional Service Center
99 High Street, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02110

Friday, February 28, 2014

Intro to the Community Rating System Webinar

In addition to the other Community Rating System (CRS) Webinars that we listed here, another webinar has been announced that is sponsored by the Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA,  This additional webinar will be held on March 10 from 1-2pm EDT (remember that March 9 is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time!).  This webinar is intended as an introduction to the CRS program for anyone who may be interested in learning more about the program basics.

To register for this event, please go to:

From the NHMA announcement:
NHMA is offering a webinar, “Introduction to the Community Rating System.” The Community Rating System (CRS) provides reduced premiums for flood insurance policy holders in communities that implement programs and activities that exceed the minimum criteria for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. If your community conducts floodplain mapping, regulatory, loss reduction, emergency management, and/or public information activities, you could benefit from this program.

This webinar is for people new to the Community Rating System (CRS), especially from communities that are not yet in the program. This one-hour session will introduce FEMA’s Community Rating System, how it operates, the costs and benefits for communities, where to get help, and how to apply. The target audience is local officials, floodplain managers, and members of the public interested in flood protection.

The presenter will be French Wetmore, a CRS consultant.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Alessandra Jerolleman, PhD, CFM, MPA
Executive Director
Natural Hazard Mitigation Association

Again, to register for this webinar, please go to the webinar registration page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Spring CFM Exam scheduled for 4/23 in Montpelier

We wanted to announce that a spring Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) exam has been scheduled and confirmed for Wednesday, April 23rd from 9am-12pm located in Montpelier.    

What is the CFM program all about you may ask?  Here is a small excerpt from the ASFPM website about the Program:

The Association of State Floodplain Managers has established a national program for professional certification of floodplain managers. The program recognizes continuing education and professional development that enhance the knowledge and performance of local, state, federal, and private-sector floodplain managers.

The primary goal of the ASFPM Certified Floodplain Manager Program (CFM Program) is to help reduce the nation's flood losses and protect and enhance the natural resources and functions of its floodplains by improving the knowledge and abilities of floodplain managers in the United States.  A second goal of the CFM Program is to increase the prominence of floodplain management in decision-making by local officials and the public.

Additional information regarding ASFPM and the CFM program can be found at ASFPM’s website or the CFM Program page:,  CFM page

General Exam Information:

The exam will be held at the central Agency of Natural Resource office located at 1 National Life Drive in Montpelier.  If you are interested, you are now able to register for this exam with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) office.  All registration forms and ASFPM membership applications should be sent to the ASFPM office in Madison, WI. 

If you are not a member of ASFPM, then the cost to register for the exam is $395.  However, if you join ASFPM as a member for $120, the exam registration fee will only be $100 for a total fee of $220.  If you are planning to become an ASFPM member and register for the exam at the same time, you should send the ASFPM membership form, the exam registration form and payment for both together for the ease of processing.

Please note that all exam registrations must be received by ASFPM no later than 2 weeks before the exam date.  This means that all registration forms need to be received by the ASFPM office no later than Wednesday, April 9th.  Otherwise, if your registration has not been received by 4/9/14, you will not be able to sit for the exam.  The CFM exam registration form and the ASFPM membership form can be found here.

Review Session:
We will also be offering an all-day review session before the exam with the date still to be determined.   The review session will be held in the ANR offices at the National Life Building located in Montpelier. Please contact Rebecca Pfeiffer in advance if you intend to be at the review session so that we can be sure that there will be enough room and so we can determined which date works best for those interested in the review.

If you are interested in taking the exam but would not be ready to do so for the 4/23 date, please contact Rebecca  so that your name will remain on our list of people to contact when we are planning another CFM exam in 2014. 

Please also note that there will be a CFM exam held (somewhat) nearby in Poughkeepsie, NY on March 26.  More information about the exam can be found at the ASFPM website.

Please pass along the word to whomever else you think may be interested in sitting for the exam!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Upcoming Webinars for the Community Rating System (CRS)

There will be several CRS webinar trainings that will be FREE and held over the course of the next few months. In addition to the Introduction to the CRS webinar, there are also some other more specific webinars.  These additional webinars include Developing Outreach Projects (Activity 330) and Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430).  

You can sign up for the webinars either through the website or by going directly to the Atkins Global website, the host for the webinars.

Upcoming Webinar Schedule:

Introduction to the Community Rating System
February 18th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
March 18th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
May 20th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
July 15th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Developing Outreach Projects (Activity 330)
February 19th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time
April 16th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
March 19th, 1:00 pm Eastern Time

Other future webinars that are on their way include:

  • Preparing for the CRS Verification Visit
  • Higher Regulatory Standards (Activity 430)
  • Drainage System Maintenance (Activity 540)
  • Natural Floodplain Functions

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Plan Ahead: Future Disasters

In January Vermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding sent a letter to all Select Boards to encourage Vermont communities to become more flood resilient and to take advantage of post-disaster funding available after October 23.

In the wake of a federally-declared disaster Municipalities may be reimbursed for 75 % of eligible damage by federal taxpayers.  Through ERAF (the Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund) the State will contribute an additional 7.5 % to help cover the damage costs. However, where communities have taken actions to avoid and reduce future damage they will be eligible for more support from the State.

At this time Select Boards can adopt road standards based on the current 2014 - 2016 Orange Book.  After Town Meeting communities can update their Local Emergency Operations Plans.  By keeping plans current and taking steps to avoid and reduce damage from flooding the State will provide 12.5 or 17.5 % of post-disaster funding.

For more information please see:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

US Senate Passes Bill to Delay Implementation of BW12

2/12/14 Update:  Here is a FEMA FAQ about the impacts of this bill on the implementation of BW12

There have been several articles (Washington Post, NYT) published today that provided details on the US Senate's passage of a bill to delay the implementation of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, or BW12.  There has been discussion about a possible repeal or delays of the BW12 bill for several months.  However, this discussion seems to have gained more steam as homeowners and other people with structures located within the Special Flood Hazard Area are starting to receive their new flood insurance premiums.  More information from ASFPM about some of the efforts that are being made to consider or include other options in any bill that may be brought to the floor in the US House of Representatives. 

For anyone who is not familiar with the BW12 bill, the insurance reform act had several goals including changes to flood mapping, flood grants and reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for an additional five years.  However, the changes that BW12 is best known for are changes to the flood insurance aspect of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Many of the flood insurance changes were designed to make the flood insurance fund more stable by reducing the fund's current deficit to the US Treasury, as well as beginning to create extra savings to help the fund to be able to withstand large scale disaster declarations like Hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Sandy.  Another aspect of the flood insurance reforms was to phase in actuarial rates for flood insurance policies which resulted in some groups of people losing the subsidy that they may have for their policy or losing any subsidy when a new policy was written.  Past posts by Ned include some information about how BW12 would impact flood insurance policies within the State of Vermont.  FEMA's website also has quite a bit of information that goes into much fuller detail about these flood insurance changes.

Many people have recognized that the original bill had issues in implementation and execution of the stated goals and objectives, specifically that the phase in of higher rates happened at a relatively fast rate, that some home or other building owners may go right from a subsidized rate directly to a full actuarial rate overnight and while many policy holders may not want to pay the higher premiums for many reasons, there was a definite contingent of people who would not have an actual ability to pay for the higher rates. 

Despite the myriad of issues with the implementation of BW12, the reasons for the passage of BW12 still remains - trying to have the National Flood Insurance Program be able to be fiscally solvent and support itself by the premiums that are paid into the program and to keep general taxpayers for funding flood recovery efforts.  A third very compelling reason for BW12 focused on having people in a flood hazard area recognize and pay for the true cost and risk of living in a hazard area, especially as we have been seeing more frequent and intense flood events and sea level rise starting to impact properties that may have been less vulnerable in the past.  The idea was that if a person living or working in a hazard area had to pay the actuarial flood insurance rate for living in this risky zone, then more structure owners would undertake mitigation efforts to help reduce their yearly premiums.

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) released a Policy Paper in October of 2013 that included 9 recommendations of how BW12 could be altered to improve implementation but cautioned against repeal.  This was in order to help keep moving the NFIP towards fiscal solvency as well as continue to focus on the growing demand for mitigating homes and other infrastructure that is located within the FEMA-mapped Special Flood Hazard Area. Many of the 9 ASFPM recommendations that had been made focused on continuing to promote and encourage meaningful mitigation of flood prone homes in a variety of ways.  This included:
  • finding more ways to fund mitigation projects and existing hazard mitigation grant programs;
  • exploring ways to better incentivize mitigation efforts through tax incentives or long-term flood insurance policy benefits;
  • recognizing partial mitigation efforts by homeowners; and
  • making loans more available to home and other building owners who may be looking for ways to mitigate their structure from future floods. 
At this time, it looks like it is uncertain how such a BW12 reform/delay bill will fair in the US House of Representatives, but we will surely hear more of this debate in the near future.