By John Englander, oceanographer and author
Flood Factor® is a recently upgraded tool that will calculate a simple flood risk score for all U.S. coastal homes and businesses. In my view, it is the best and easiest way to learn about relative flood risk for a particular property. It can inform and empower home owners. Best of all, it’s free.
Just enter a street address and get a ranking from one to 10, their calculation of relative flood risk for that particular parcel. Lower numbers mean less risk. They explain that their target time horizon is 30 years, a great time span given the length of typical mortgage financing.
Though extremely simple for the user, the rating is extremely sophisticated taking into consideration the elevation, topography, coastal storm probability, storm surge, down slope flooding, and extreme tides.
Rising sea level is also considered, though it should be understood that the disastrous phases of rising sea level will likely come into play in the second half of this century, so is not fully covered with this tool. Also, as they give notice on the home page, this automated free service is not to replace detailed engineering assessments. But for most homeowners and businesses, Flood Factor® will be very valuable indeed.
While I could go on and write about its features and benefits, the best way to learn about and appreciate its usefulness is to go to their site and put in an address. www.floodfactor.com Below is a screenshot of the home page to show just how simple it is. Not only will you almost instantly receive your risk rating, it will give a few pages of additional information with elegance, clarity, and simplicity.
Also on the site, you will find the tabs for other pages with explanations of their methodology, their partner organizations, advice on using their assessment alongside the FEMA flood risk information, and more. If there is an award for clear, easy to understand websites, I nominate Flood Factor®.
They have been regularly improving the product over the last year or so, so it’s best to look at the latest version and features online. In an update last month, they incorporated financial impacts both at the property level and for the financial sector. Financial impacts of flood risk carried by American homeowners are quantified, showing how those effects are growing as flood risks worsen due to the changing climate.
There are nearly 4.3 million residential homes across the country with substantial flood risk that would result in financial loss, according to the announcement by Matthew Eby, CEO of Flood Factor. Their research says that if all of these homes were to be insured against flood risk through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), rates would need to increase four and a half times to cover the current risk. These are valuable insights both for property owners and for those looking at national policy.
I recommend Flood Factor® without reservation. It has been created by First Street Foundation, a nonprofit that is operating very transparently. Kudos.
John Englander is an oceanographer and author of MOVING TO HIGHER GROUND: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward and High Tide on Main Street. www.johnenglander.net Twitter @johnenglander FB: johnenglander sea level rise.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.