- A bipartisan bill to improve flood mapping technologies, dubbed the Flood Mapping Modernization and Homeowner Empowerment Pilot Program Act of 2018, was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday.
- As introduced, the bill would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to carry out a pilot program to "enhance the mapping of urban flooding and associated property damage and the availability of that mapped data to homeowners, businesses, and localities." Houston Chronicle reports it would provide $5.5 million to cities for demonstration grants.
- The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Last year brought a devastating hurricane season in August and September, as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria pummeled Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico, respectively. Efforts have been made to rebuild these regions, most notably through dedicated grants and volunteer efforts. However the damage done was a wakeup call to all levels of government that increased resiliency should be a top priority.
While cities such as Houston have made efforts to propose new floodplain standards and install flood warning systems, time is ticking toward the next hurricane season. One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. John Culberson, R-TX, noted Houston is still "extremely vulnerable to a future flooding event," and said the bill is "another step forward to improve Houston's preparedness and every other community across the nation," according to the Chronicle.
Of course, Houston isn't the only city prone to flooding, and as weather patterns become less predictable, uncertainty of where the next hurricanes may hit is significant. By presenting a bill that would put flood mapping responsibility in the hands of FEMA, cities will be freed to invest time into dedicated strategies to increase local resilience and prepare both citizens and at-risk infrastructure for what's ahead.