(March 1, 2019) Although storm damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was extensive, the remapping of flood zones under the Hurricane Sandy Remapping Project will not affect Ocean City.
The proposed revisions to the floodplain maps, more formally referred to as Coastal Barrier Resources System, will end just north and south of the resort.
Planning Director Bill Neville told the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission last week the U.S. Department of the Interior opened a 120-day public comment period in December, which ends on April 17, for draft revised boundaries to the Coastal Barrier Resources System overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 2006, Congress authorized the secretary of the interior to update and recommend additions to coastal barrier maps that were last revised in 1990. Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a remapping project for barrier regions along the North Atlantic coast was federally funded and launched in 2014.
The project includes nine states hit the hardest by Hurricane Sandy. The first batch, including Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, had a comment period from March 12 through July 10, 2018. The second batch includes Connecticut, Maryland, New York (Long Island), Rhode Island, and Virginia.
The draft-revised maps will only become effective once Congress adopts them through legislation.
“It was intended to limit the use of federal flood insurance to pay for damage on barrier islands,” Neville said. “The idea was … the [National] Flood Insurance Program shouldn’t rebuild places that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
Neville said if Congress approves the changes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would no longer provide flood insurance to property owners in areas included in the revised boundaries.
“State or private funding can be used to rebuild after storms but not the Federal Flood Insurance program money,” he said.
Neville said Ocean City officials would have sounded alarm bells if the revised map boundaries had extended north of Assateague Island or westward towards the Ocean City Municipal Airport.
“Neither of those things have occurred, so it’s the same as it’s been over the years,” he said.
If approved by Congress, the mapping revisions would remove 787 acres, while adding more than 141,000 acres to the Coastal Barrier Resource System, which includes the addition of 96 structures and removal of 643 others.
“This is the sort of thing that starts to chew away at the investment that’s been made in some of these coastal areas,” he said. “If the policy starts to say … let’s not rebuild we certainly need to know.”
To submit written comments on the Hurricane Sandy Remapping Project
online visit http://www.regulations.gov and search for docket number FWS-HQ-ES-2018-0034 or send mail to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket NoFWS-HQ-ES-2018-0034; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041–3808.