Failing Foundations: News 12 viewers react to Team 12 investigation about outdated flood maps
A Team 12 investigation found that more homes in the tri-state area may be at risk of flooding than outdated FEMA flood maps currently show – a report that left many people concerned.
Recent storms left some homeowners with tens of thousands of dollars in flood damage that was not covered by flood insurance because the homeowners thought they didn’t need it or weren’t allowed to buy it.
“A lot of people said, ‘You know, you don’t need [insurance]. It’s not a flood zone,” flood victim Ann Wernick told News 12.
Team 12 senior investigative reporter Walt Kane reported that FEMA’s flood maps are out of date and that some panels haven’t been updated since the 1970s.
But even the most recent flood maps from the area are about 15 years old, which means they may not reflect where floods are actually happening.
This came as a surprise to many News 12 viewers.
“Very concerned. New Jersey has been getting severely heavy storms that may last about 20 minutes but can bring a foot or two of water in many places,” News 12 viewer Craig wrote. “There's nowhere for it to go because the sewers get backed up right away.”
“We created our own 100-year flood zone. We found about 70% more properties,” says Jeremy Porter, with First Street Foundation.
First Street Foundation has created an online tool where people can get a personalized flood risk report for their homes.
“I have to get flood insurance for sure,” News 12 viewer Ann wrote after seeing the report.
But some viewers felt that the investigation missed the mark.
Viewer Jennifer wrote, "With flood zone designation comes mandatory flood insurance… The cost can be crippling."
But News 12’s Walt Kane says that the point of the investigation wasn’t that more people should be put in flood zones, but to warn people who don’t live in those zones that they may want to consider buying flood insurance. For anyone who lives outside of a flood zone, buying flood insurance can be very affordable.
Kane says that the problem is that there is so much misinformation out there that when those people try to buy flood insurance, they're sometimes told they can't.
“We actually got into an argument with our insurance agent who couldn't understand why we wanted to buy a flood insurance policy on our building. We weren't in a mapped floodplain. And we literally had to demand that he go and buy a policy for us,” says Chad Berginnis, with the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
The News 12 Investigative Team will continue to look into neglected infrastructure in the tristate area. On Tuesday, the team will report on how outdated federal flood warning maps may be costing people lots of money and how to tell if their home is at risk.