More than half of residential and commercial properties in Houston that are at high or moderate risk of flooding are not included in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), according to CoreLogic.
Properties outside those zones don't need flood insurance, so many flood victims of Hurricane Harvey will not have access to insurance reimbursements to make repairs. About 52% of residential and commercial properties in the Houston metro are at “High” or “Moderate” risk of flooding, but are not in a (SFHA), CoreLogic says.
Less than two weeks before Harvey, President Trump did away with the Obama-era Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that required federally funded construction in flood-prone areas to be built to higher resilience standards. There are concerns that rebuilding in Houston will not be done according to the more stringent standards that in some cases require structures to be built at higher elevations.
FEMA had proposed that most construction projects using federal funds be built 2 feet above the 100-year floodplain. Hospitals and other "critical action" projects would have been required to be built 3 feet above that floodplain. The higher elevation could mean the difference between full hospital functionality and a complete failure of electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, according to an NBBJ healthcare partner quoted in a Modern Healthcare report.