August 30, 2011
“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God; and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” —John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. July 16, 1814
Last week I wrote about the stories of two Oklahoma residents, David McLain and Margaret Snow, and their respective experiences with FEMA and the map modernization program (Map Mod) Margaret had no idea her property had been re-designated at all and David caught the FEMA/Oklahoma Water Resources Board in the act and challenged them. His property remains safely listed as high and dry. Margaret’s property (located no where near water and previously was classified as “up land”) remains in the newly designated flood zone and has subsequently lost about half of its value.
Map Mod have transitioned into what FEMA calls Risk Map. The Risk Map program provides tools and incentives for communities to focus more on reducing risk which you can bet translates into more areas being required to pay for flood insurance and more areas where development is off limits or severely restricted. You can check and see if your area has been remapped (DFIRM Digital Flood Insurance Map) by zip code at FEMA’s website
Why is this happening? In a nutshell-the National Flood Insurance Program NFIP (administered by FEMA) is in debt to the tune of about 20 billion dollars due to Hurricane Katrina, Rita and other storms and FEMA is including property in flood zones that have no reason being there in order to gain funds in order to pay this debt. Property owners in certain flood zones are practically required to buy flood insurance. If you have or want a loan backed by the federal government and your property is in a flood zone- you must buy flood insurance from FEMA. Otherwise, many are being pressured to buy it.
FEMA was in trouble before Katrina and Rita though.
After Katrina and Rita struck in 2005, the NFIP was more or less insolvent, without the capacity to pay the huge volume of claims those hurricanes created. Congress reacted by increasing the NFIP’s borrowing ability from the U.S. Treasury more than 13-fold, to a level of nearly $21 billion. link
FEMA Map Modernization Status OKLAHOMA
Here is a story published today about the National Flood Insurance Program’s insolvency;
Congress authorized FEMA to update the nation’s flood maps making them digital and other improvements however in 2006 FEMA issued a “mid course adjustment” which means FEMA basically said ‘Hey. We are going to do this Map Modernization thing a little differently’ What they have done differently is causing lots of problems for property owners.
“In August and September 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused unprecedented destruction to property along the Gulf Coast, resulting in billions of dollars of damage claims to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” GAO 2006
About 2006 FEMA begins issuing flood zone maps with a whole lot of people and their property in it that are not historically or practically at risk for flooding.
The FEMA flood maps determine who must buy insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. The money collected from the NFIP goes to paying off the FEMA administered NFIP’s debt. You do the math.
It’s no secret anyways, FEMA freely admits that part of this new approach is prompted by the burden of debt carried from other disasters.
“The escalating cost of emergency relief aid has prompted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to focus its priorities toward mitigation. This is a dramatic shift from FEMA’s traditional charter of responding to disasters and being prepared to respond.” The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan
We are essentially being taxed to pay for other people’s losses. The reason that this is considered necessary now is because “climate change” is a certainty and the federal government expects the unprecedented disasters of recent years to continue. Redistribution of wealth is the accepted manner in which to deal with these certainties reminiscent of the thinking behind nationalized health care. This is also known as “legalized plunder“.
In Oklahoma, the Water Resources Board administers the NFIP for FEMA.
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) administers the NFIP in cooperation with FEMA and acts as the State Floodplain Board. The Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act requires the OWRB to establish regulations to assist floodplain boards in mapping floodplains and 100-year flood elevations in Oklahoma. link
The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is in charge of all Flood Plain Management as authorized by the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act.(Title 82, O. S. 2001, §1601-1618)
All NFIP participating communities must have a floodplain management plan which follows the dictates of FEMA.
“The Oklahoma Floodplain Management Act, effective May 13, 1980, and revised and updated in 2001, 2002, and 2004, enables Oklahoma communities to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).” link
This means that if your community is participating in the NFIP, then your communities development must conform to FEMA’s regulations and land use policies
The federal government has no authority to control local land use policy but with the lure of federal funds and the threat of withholding federal funds in the event of a true disaster, FEMA wahoo’s your local government to do their bidding.
“Since the Federal Government does not have land use authority, the NFIP is based on the Federal government’s power to spend under the Constitution rather than any Federal authority to regulate land use.”
“Under the NFIP regulations, participating NFIP communities are required to regulate all development in SFHAs. [Special Flood Hazard Areas]”
National Flood Insurance Program
Similarly, the state passes the buck to it’s agencies to implement unpopular growth limitations on local development plans. Water management agencies are empowered by the state to regulate population growth and development.
“The State of Oklahoma does not have adopted ordinances regulating areas of population growth or future development per se. Oklahoma agencies representing the state under authority granted to them by the legislation adopt rules/regulations regarding Storm Water Management or Stream Water Management”
The first thing you ought to know is that floodplain management is more about protecting the environment from you, than protecting you from the environment. (More about Sustainable Development here) As we know, Oklahoma’s high percentage of private property ownership is considered to be contrary to sustainable development. (Private Property Ownership in Oklahoma Barrier to Sustainable Development)
It has been this way for some time. As far back as 1996, floodplain management has incorporated conservation into its management duties.
OKLAHOMA’S COMPREHENSIVE WETLANDS CONSERVATION PLAN
“To integrate wetlands conservation with Oklahoma’s flood plain management program and create more wetland greenbelt/riparian areas.”
Oklahoma has a “net gain” policy for state owned wetlands and a “no net loss” policy for “wetlands”on state funded projects.
“To establish a net gain wetlands policy for state-owned lands and a no net loss policy on state funded projects to encourage the restoration, enhancement, and creation of wetlands.”
Incorporating wetlands construction or enhancement in urban/suburban areas as part of greenbelts, riparian zones, parks, and stormwater management systems is encouraged.
Certified Floodplain Managers
Members of Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association have the acronym CFM by their names. That means Certified Floodplain Manager.
So when you see CFM by your floodplain managers’ name…
Members of Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association:
Bill Smith, PE, CFM, Team Leader; Amy Brandley, CFM, Volunteers Coordinator. Team Captains: Phillip Beauchamp, CFM, Gavin Brady, CFM, Dan Carey, CFM, Jessica Yeager, CFM, Leslie Lewis,
CFM, Barend Meiling, PE, CFM, Omeed Mollaian, PE, CFM, Ken Morris, CFM, Bill Robison, PE, CFM, Carolyn Schultz, CFM, Ellen Stevens, PhD, PE, CFM, Ana Stagg, CFM, Laura Story, Anna Waggoner, CFM, Ruth Walters, CFM, Clark Williams, CFM link
. . .understand that CFM (Certified Floodplain Manager) means ASFPM certified floodplain manager. And if your floodplain manager is ASFPM certified, you need to be checking your city ordinances for “No Adverse Impact” floodplain management techniques.
**Here is a list of all state Floodplain Managers. Look for your county and see if they have a “CFM” by their name.**
If you want to know more about the role and duties of an Oklahoma Floodplain Manager-click the pic.
“The ASFPM CFM Program recognizes individuals who become certified, who pass the ASFPM exam, or an exam prepared ASFPM chapters that certify floodplain managers.” link
The National Association of Flood Plain Managers or ASFPM is a non-governmental organization (meaning unelected and not officially a part of government). As with many non-government agencies, ASFPM seeks to be extremely influential in policy making. It seems that they have met their goal.
ASFPM is part of a 6 NGO partnership that includes
•The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
•The Coastal States Organization (CSO), The National Association of Counties (NACo),
•the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and
•The American Planning Association (APA).)
As I mentioned in my previous post—–The ASFPM has some very interesting new management techniques that really got my attention while researching water management issues a few months ago. This new water management technique is called No Adverse Impact or NAI.
ASFPM says that NO ADVERSE IMPACT is “A New Direction in Floodplain Management Consistent with the Concept of Sustainable Development”
A new direction?
It is only as new as the 1987 Brundtland Report which is the basis for No Adverse Impact. (More about Sustainable Development here)
We all understand that we cannot do anything on or with our property (or our rights) that will harm the rights of another.
The No Adverse Impact approach begins with a solid and lawful premise, that our right to swing our fists stops where the nose of our neighbor begins, but then twists that premise by the manner in which what constitutes an adverse impact in determined.
“The No Adverse impact philosophy can shape the default management criteria: a community develops and adopts a comprehensive plan to manage development that identifies acceptable levels of impact, specifies appropriate measures to mitigate those adverse impacts, and establishes a plan for implementation.” link
So the community defines what constitutes an adverse impact and as we have seen time and again, the “community” is a group of people who are usually manipulated into “consensus” by community organizers to meet sustainable development goals. But don’t be distracted from the truth. No one, no group can define and thus take away your God given rights. This is a dangerous road to travel and one that the Founders of this country explicitly avoided. We are NOT a democracy.
It is often said that we are a nation of laws, not men. This is what protects us from an arbitrary and capricious government. Laws restrain men but in ASFPM’s view men should have the ability to restrain law.
This is the problem; what constitutes an “adverse impact” under ASFPM’s plan, is defined by the community not the law.
FEMA, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and Oklahoma Floodplain Managers have adopted the ASFPM’s No Adverse Impact management technique and it is being implemented in this state to the detriment of Oklahoma land owners.
ASFPMA and FEMA-working ten regions
The term favored by FEMA is “wise use” but you will also see “no adverse imapct” used as well. Both share the same problem-who defines what “wise use” or “no adverse impact” means?
Now “Hazard Mitigation” for FEMA has broadened considerably and it dovetails nicely with conservation efforts. Now it is all about prevention of future disasters. One great way to prevent property losses is to makes sure there is no property to lose in the first place.
The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan 2011
“Property Acquisition -This is the State’s most favored, and usually most cost effective, voluntary option because the people and property are totally and permanently removed from the path of flooding and danger.” (page 39)
Oklahoma’s declares in the state’s 2011 Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan, that FEMA’s mission is our mission.
The FEMA mission is: “Reduce the loss of life and property and protect our institution from all hazards by leading and supporting the nation in a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.”
The Oklahoma State Hazard Mitigation Plan was written following this same precept. FEMA programs were reviewed and were integrated with the state mitigation planning process. The State of Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Planning process aligns exactly with FEMA programs (page 33)
This is because in order for Oklahoma to qualify for these federal program, the state must conform.
“This Plan [The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan]is designed to fulfill the requirementsof the following programs available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)”
♦ Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program (PDM);
♦ Post-disaster assistance through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP);
♦ Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMA),
♦ Community Rating System Floodplain Management Planning (CRS);
♦ Severe Repetitive Loss Program (SRL);
♦ Repetitive Flood Claims Program (RFC).
I wish I had good news for you new floodplain dwellers but I don’t . Although the plan is technically voluntary, there is a catch or two.
“The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Participation in NFIP by municipalities, counties, and tribal organizations is voluntary” (2011 Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan)
If a community does not participate residents cannot get flood insurance and in the event a presidential disaster declaration is made, non participating communities will not be eligible for federal assistance. Source:About the National Flood Insurance Program: Community Participation
What makes it worse is that when a community agrees to participate in the NFIP they have to accept all of the regulations on development that FEMA imposes. Those regulations are detrimental to property values. Often property owners just give up in disgust and leave. It is apparent that FEMA and those at the local level charged with implementing FEMA’s directives have rolled sustainable development principles into hazard mitigation policy.
Planning for a Sustainable Future: The Link Between Hazard Mitigation and Livability” (FEMA 364) illustrates how communities, whether planning for hazard mitigation before a disaster or initiating recovery planning after a disaster, can integrate the concepts and principles of sustainable development into each phase of mitigation planning. FEMA 364 also shows how disaster resistance can be a catalyst to help communities incorporate sustainable development practices into their day-to-day planning and development functions.
FEMA and the NFIP creating “Economic Dead Zones“
“The National Flood Insurance Program is, in both its design and execution, the worst federal program that I have encountered in my time in the United States House of Representatives.
Once vibrant neighborhoods…in which flood insurance is mandated are effectively economic dead zones, because this program provides perverse disincentives to home ownership and to home improvement, which, over decades have effectively turned whole swaths of formerly vibrant urban neighborhoods into virtual ghost towns. …communities across America pay this mandatory flood tax and see no benefit… —U.S. Representative Brian Higgins (D) New York, April 20, 2009 at a congressional hearing on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood map modernization program
If you want to know more, I recommend scanning over The Oklahoma Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan
It is a daunting read but I found the first several pages manages to encapsulate enough information to give a good idea of what is going on. You can also search the document for key words like “FEMA”, “sustainable”, “all-hazards”, “land-use”, “relocation” or any other keyword that strikes your fancy.
For an excellent overview and more information on FEMA’s re-mapping efforts, see OK-SAFE’s recent newsletter
Has Your Non-flooding Property Been Re-Mapped as Flood Zone?
If you have had your non-flooding property (in Oklahoma) designated as flood zone/flood plain by either the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and/or FEMA (or FIMA), the Attorney General of Oklahoma may be interested in your situation.
Two people have agreed to be the contact persons for this effort. Please have your paperwork together and organized, including any notes you may have taken about your conversations with OWRB, FEMA, or city officials. Get names, titles, and contact information from everyone you have spoken with regarding this flood zone designation. Include any before and after property assessments you may have.
- Northeast Oklahoma contact: Margaret Snow, email: firstname.lastname@example.org - this area includes Washington County, Rogers, etc.
- Rest of Oklahoma: Keith Shankle, email: email@example.com
This past Sunday I had the honor of visiting with Amanda Teegarden and Don Wyatt on their weekly internet radio program “America in the Balance” about this issue.
My advice; Ask questions, demand answers and know your rights!