Saturday, February 14, 2015

Delaware's new maps to show future flood risks

Molly Murray in Delawareonline: There's a new worst-case scenario for future flood riisk in Delaware – worse than the state's sea level rise maps, worse than flooding from 100-year storms plotted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This mapping project takes that 100-year storm flood level and adds three feet to it.

So at the south end of Rehoboth Beach, the maps – not yet publicly available – show places that are high and dry on the FEMA maps in a 100-year-storm, but are inundated with water during that same storm once sea level rises three feet.

The new mapping tool is designed to help state officials plan where and how to build future roads, bridges, buildings and other structures ev
en when they aren't within a currently mapped flood zone. It can also be used as a tool during reconstruction and to avoid places where future flooding is likely.

"The new maps are not regulatory," said Susan Love, a planner with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. "They are for guidance." In fact, said state Environmental Chief David S. Small, there is no one within state government to enforce the use of the maps by state agencies.

Small and others stressed they were strictly advisory and had no impact on where local government and private landowners could or should build. "It doesn't mean we are taking your rights away," said state Planner Constance Holland. But, she added, "it is better building."...

The aftermath of a 1913 flood in New Jersey (near Delaware)

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