New app ranks 142M US properties for flood risks

Flood Factor calculated that nearly 6M more properties are at risk than FEMA estimates

An app has been designed to show where critical flood zones are in America.

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Flood Factor, which was created by the nonprofit research and technology company First Street Foundation, has released flood risk data for more than 142 million homes and properties throughout the U.S., according to a Monday press release.

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Around 14.6 million properties are at risk of being damaged in a flood, according to Flood Factor. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated 8.7 million properties are at risk, however. The discrepancy in numbers may mean millions of Americans are underestimating the chance of a flood hitting their home, according to the First Street Foundation.

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In an attempt to remedy this issue, Flood Factor scores each property’s flood risk on a scale from one to 10, which is based on the chance of flooding within a 30-year mortgage period.

A national view of flood risks, according to Flood Factor's map. First Street Foundation / Flood Factor

"In environmental engineering, there is a concept called stationarity, which assumes that today is going to be like yesterday, and tomorrow is going to be like yesterday," First Street Foundation's chief data office Ed Kearns, said in a statement. "This concept used to work, but with a changing environment, it's a poor assumption and no longer does. FEMA's method assumes stationarity, First Street's does not."

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The top three areas that are most at risk of flood damage that will impact the greatest number of properties are Cape Coral, Florida; Tampa, Florida and New Orleans, according to the 2020 First Street Foundation Flood Model Technical Methodology Document, which is where Flood Factor draws its data.

Cape Coral has 90,239 properties for 2020 that have a 69 percent chance of being hurt by a flood, according to the First Street Foundation. And the organization estimates that the number of properties in the area will grow to 108,710 by 2050 along with an 84 percent chance of being hurt by a flood.

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Similarly, Tampa has 43,111 properties for 2020 that have a 32 percent chance of being hurt by a flood. However, First Street Foundation expects the area to grow to 52,756 properties by 2050 with a raised risk of flooding by 39 percent, which is not as drastic as Cape Coral but is still a significant change.

New Orleans, also has a 32 percent chance for current flood risk for 48,064 properties in 2020 but it is predicted to be hit the hardest as the decades go on. By 2050, First Street Foundation estimates the city will have a 98 percent risk of flooding for potentially 147,862 properties.

rRising sea levels are a large contributing factor for why there is an increased chance for flooding in so many areas in the country by 2050, according to the First Street Foundation.

A desktop view of FloodFactor.com. First Street Foundation / Flood Factor

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To see if your home has the chance of being hurt by a flood in the next 30 years, visit FloodFactor.com and plug in your address, zip code, city or state to access the organization’s interactive flooding map.