The following Panel requests have been submitted to the Institute.

FEMA Panels

Community Panels

Panel ID:
MAPC051914
Panel Name:
Plymouth County, MA
Panel Request Date:
2014-05-19
FEMA Region:
I
Community Request Summary:

By letters dated October 2, 2013 and October 15, 2013, the Towns of Scituate, MA and Marshfield, MA, respectively, submitted appeals of the preliminary revised Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) issued for Plymouth County, MA by FEMA on May 1, 2013. Despite the complexity involved in establishing coastal base flood elevations (BFEs), coastal high-hazard areas, and floodplain boundaries, these appeals are focused on narrow geographic locations and on a single technical issue. In Scituate, the appeal involves areas in the vicinity of coastal transects PL-40 and PL-49. In Marshfield the appeal involves areas in the vicinity of coastal transects PL-64 and PL-66. The technical issue in contention in both appeals is the incident wave height and wave period used to compute wave height, wave setup, and wave runup along these transects. The appellants, through their consultant, Ransom Consulting, Inc., contend that FEMA should not have used deep-water wave characteristics for these computations, but rather, wave characteristics that have been transformed by taking into account local refraction, diffraction, and bottom dissipation effects. Ransom conducted revised analyses for these transects that utilized incident wave characteristics selected from the STWAVE model prepared by STARR (FEMA’s consultant) for near-shore breaking conditions and then re-computed BFEs along these transects that are typically 2 feet lower than those proposed by FEMA. FEMA subsequently rejected the appeal on the basis that Ransom’s analyses applied breaking-wave parameters to a wave-setup computation method (the Direct Integration Method) which was developed for use with deep-water wave parameters.

Panel Decision Date:
Panel Decision Summary:
Panel Report:
Panel Members:
FEMA Final Determination Date:
FEMA Determination Summary:
Panel ID:
TXHC051512
Panel Name:
Harris County, TX
Panel Request Date:
2012-05-15
FEMA Region:
VI
Community Request Summary:

By letter dated April 14, 2011, Brown & Gay Engineers (BGE), on behalf of Bridgeland Development, LP, submitted an appeal of the preliminary revised Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) issued for Harris County Texas by FEMA on September 30, 2010. Data for the preliminary revised FIRM was developed by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD). BGE’s appeal was primarily focused on base flood elevations (BFEs) and floodplain boundaries proposed by FEMA for Cypress Creek, downstream of Katy-Hockley Road, in an area being developed by Bridgeland.

Panel Decision Date:
2012-12-06
Panel Decision Summary:

Based on the submitted scientific and technical information, and within the limitations of the Scientific Resolution Panel (SRP), the SRP has determined that the Community's (Bridgeland’s) data does not satisfy NFIP standards, thus FEMA's data is not corrected, contradicted, or negated.

Panel Report:
http://panels.floodsrp.org/files/?artifact_id=2866
Panel Members:
  • Dr. Lee Azimi, P.E.
  • Mr. Martin Brungard, P.E., D.WRE
  • Mr. John Miller, P.E., CFM, CSM
  • Dr. David Williams, PE (in CE), PH, D.WRE, CPESC, F.ASCE
  • Mr. Joseph Wilson, P.H., P.E.
FEMA Final Determination Date:
2013-01-14
FEMA Determination Summary:

The SRP findings demonstrated that the appeal data do not satisfy NFIP standards and that the FEMA data presented in the preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report and Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) have not been corrected, contradicted or negated.  Thus the SRP recommended that FEMA not incorporate the data into the ongoing Cypress Creek Physical Map Revision (PMR).

On January 14, 2013, FEMA issued letters to Harris County and the City of Houston communicating the path forward for the Cypress Creek PMR as follows:  FEMA reviewed the Panel’s Decision and Report, accepted the recommendation, and determined that the proposed flood hazards along Cypress Creek are accurate as shown in the preliminary FIS report and FIRM.  The next step in the mapping process is the issuance of a Letter of Final Determination (LFD).  The LFD is tentatively scheduled for April 16, 2013, and will establish the effective date for the FIS Report and FIRM.

Panel ID:
NVDC122811
Panel Name:
Douglas County, NV
Panel Request Date:
2011-12-28
FEMA Region:
IX
Community Request Summary:

By letter dated September 3, 2008, Douglas County, NV appealed the base flood elevations (BFEs) and base flood depths proposed by FEMA for multiple flooding sources as shown on the preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), dated April 4, 2008. After consultation between the two parties failed to resolve the appeal, on September 17, 2009, Douglas County filed suit against FEMA in U.S. District Court alleging that FEMA’s data and analyses were scientifically or technically incorrect (the sole statutory basis of appeal). On October 28, 2011, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement calling for the adjudication of the appeal by a Scientific Resolution Panel (SRP) as described in FEMA Procedure Memorandum 58. Data that may be reviewed by the SRP are limited to that contained in Attachment 2 of the Settlement Agreement.

The appeal is complex in that many aspects of the hydrologic and hydraulic modeling, as well as the accuracy of LiDAR mapping, are contested for multiple flooding sources. In particular, the community, with support from various consultants, including Manhard Consulting Ltd., R.O. Anderson Engineering Inc., and Wood Rodgers Inc., has identified some 12 technical issues to be addressed by the SRP.

Panel Decision Date:
2012-07-16
Panel Decision Summary:

Based on the submitted scientific and technical information, and within the limitations of the SRP, the panel has determined that FEMA's data does not satisfy NFIP mapping standards defined in FEMA's Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners (NFIP standards) and must be revisited.

Panel Report:
http://panels.floodsrp.org/files/?artifact_id=2783
Panel Members:
  • Dr. Lee Azimi, P.E.
  • Dr. Richard Hawkins
  • Mr. Roger Kilgore, P.E., D.WRE
  • Mr. Albert Liou, P.E.
  • Dr. Vijay Singh
FEMA Final Determination Date:
FEMA Determination Summary:
Panel ID:
VTWB062111
Panel Name:
Barre, VT
Panel Request Date:
2011-06-21
FEMA Region:
I
Community Request Summary:

The City of Barre is appealing the peak discharges in FEMA's proposed 2009 Flood Insurance Study (FIS). These 2009 peak discharges are based on HEC-1 modeling. They replace FEMA's 2007 peak discharges that were based on regression equations and would replace the current effective 1984 discharges that were based on flow transposition.

The City contends that FEMA's 2009 hydrologic methodology produces results that are less accurate to those developed by flow transposition.

Panel Decision Date:
2011-11-16
Panel Decision Summary:

Based on the submitted scientific and technical information, and within the limitations of the SRP, the Panel has determined that, although the community’s data satisfies NFIP standards, it does not negate FEMA’s data.

Panel Report:
http://panels.floodsrp.org/files/?artifact_id=2665
Panel Members:
  • Mr. Robert Billings, PE, PH, CFM
  • Ms Carolyn Gilligan, PE
  • Mr. John Loper, P.E.
  • Dr. Michael Menoes, PE
  • Dr. Charles Patterson, PhD, PE, CFM
FEMA Final Determination Date:
2012-09-19
FEMA Determination Summary:
The Letter of Final Determination (LFD) for the Washington County, VT flood study, which includes the City of Barre is scheduled for September 19, 2012. These maps would then take effect on March 19, 2013. FEMA issued a letter to the City of Barre on May 1, 2012, summarizing FEMA’s decision to move forward with the study as follows: The Panel Decision and Report serves as a recommendation to FEMA and states that the Panel determined the City of Barre’s submittal does not negate FEMA’s data. Thus, the FEMA data presented in the preliminary Flood Insurance Study and Flood Insurance Rate Map for Washington County, VT were not corrected, contradicted, or negated by the City of Barre’s submittal. Though no changes are warranted for Stevens Branch prior to finalizing the flood study, FEMA acknowledged the “Additional Recommendations and Comments” in the report, which will be entered into FEMA’s Comprehensive Needs Management System. This will enable FEMA to account for these recommendations and make use of them in future map improvements efforts in this area.
Panel ID:
MAES042211
Panel Name:
Ring's Island , Salisbury, MA
Panel Request Date:
2011-04-22
FEMA Region:
I
Community Request Summary:

The basis for the Town of Salisbury's appeal is that FEMA's proposal to include a V-Zone delineation and the increase in the flood elevation from Elevation 9 (the 1% annual chance floor elevation) to Elevation 11 in the Ring's Island area of the Merrimack River is based on analyses that

  • are not consistent with FEMA coastal flooding analyses;
  • utilized wind data that overestimated 1% storm wind velocities;
  • are based on a tansect that is not representative of the Ring's Island shoreline;
  • over estimated fetch distances for the Ring's Island shoreline.
Panel Decision Date:
2011-11-10
Panel Decision Summary:

Based on the submitted scientific and technical data and within the limitations of the SRP, the Panel has determined that the Community's data does not satisfy NFIP standards, thus FEMA's data is not corrected, contradicted, or negated.

Panel Report:
http://panels.floodsrp.org/files/?artifact_id=2664
Panel Members:
  • Dr. Thomas Ballestero
  • Mrs. Avalisha Fisher, P.E.
  • Mr. Douglas Hamilton, P.E., D.WRE
  • Mr. Roger Kilgore, P.E., D.WRE
  • Mr. John Lally, P.E.
FEMA Final Determination Date:
2012-01-03
FEMA Determination Summary:
On January 3, 2012, FEMA issued a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) for the Essex County, MA flood study, which included the Town of Salisbury. These maps took effect on July 3, 2012. The issuance of the LFD for this flood study was concurrent with the issuance of a letter to Town of Salisbury on January 3, summarizing FEMA’s decision to move forward with the study as follows: The Panel Decision and Report serves as a recommendation to FEMA and states that the Panel determined the Town of Salisbury’s submittal does not satisfy NFIP criteria. Thus, the FEMA data presented in the preliminary Flood Insurance Study and Flood Insurance Rate Map for Essex County, MA were not corrected, contradicted, or negated by the community’s submittal. No changes were warranted prior to finalizing the flood study, which took effect on July 3, 2012.
Top of page

FEMA Panels

Panel ID:
FEMA061711
Panel Name:
Levee Analysis and Mapping Project, Independent Scientific Body
Panel Request Date:
2011-06-17
FEMA Region:
National
FEMA Request Summary:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) purpose in convening the Independent Scientific Body (ISB) is to obtain comments that will improve the proposed methodologies for creating Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) in areas with levees that are not accredited.  FEMA recognizes that no levee fully reduces the risk of flooding, including accredited levees.   Even properly maintained levees can fail or be overtopped during large flooding events.  Living with levees is a shared responsibility, however, and the work undertaken by the ISB will help communities better understand their risk leading to more informed decisions about what they can do to reduce that risk.

The three main aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are:  1) floodplain identification and mapping; 2) floodplain management; and 3) flood insurance.  This ISB will examine the first aspect, floodplain identification and mapping, specifically as it applies to the analysis of risk associated with our Nation’s levee systems. FEMA is asking the ISB to evaluate the new levee analysis and mapping approaches. The primary framework for this analysis is:

  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Repeatability
  • Technical Credibility
  • Stakeholder Credibility
  • Alignment with Program Requirements and Obligations
  • Program Risk
Panel Review Completion Date:
2011-07-21
Panel Report:
Panel Members:
  • Mr. Scott Berkebile, PE, CFM
  • Mr. Martin Brungard, P.E., D.WRE
  • Mr. Todd Cochran, PE, CFM
  • Mr. Kyle Schilling, P.E., BCEE, D.WRE, Dist. M. ASCE
  • Mr. Joe VanMullem, PE
  • Dr. Thomas Zimmie, PhD, PE, D.GE
FEMA Summary:

November 15, 2011

Since the conclusion of the July 7 meeting between members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Levee Analysis and Mapping Team and the Levee Analysis and Mapping Independent Scientific Body (ISB), FEMA has been reviewing the comments provided in response to the information presented during the ISB meeting and in the various supporting materials supplied.  The Team is incorporating the ideas and suggestions brought forth by the ISB through their detailed review into FEMA's revised levee analysis and mapping approach.

FEMA has reviewed all of the comments, categorized them by subject area, and provided them to the Levee Analysis and Mapping Team for use in revising the proposed approach for analyzing and mapping non-accredited levees.  Some of the major items addressed are listed below.

A number of the comments FEMA received from the ISB pointed out the need to clarify terminology and provide more comprehensive guidance.  FEMA will review and clarify the usage of the terms "accredit" and "certify" to prevent confusion.  There will also be further clarification of roles during the Levee Discovery phase of a Risk MAP project.  FEMA has incorporated this guidance in the document, Revised Analysis and Mapping Procedures for Non-Accredited Levees: Proposed Approach for Public Review, which will be made available to the public for review and comment.  Note many of the more detailed comments and suggestions ISB members provided will be addressed in formal guidance provided to flood risk study practitioners.

FEMA agrees with the ISB that community collaboration to determine the most feasible technical solutions is an important step in moving forward.  FEMA will also revise the makeup and process for the Local Levee Working Group per the suggestion of the ISB. The ISB’s support for creating a collaborative process is appreciated, and FEMA will work to implement a method of stakeholder engagement that includes both a local levee working group and a best practices and implementation review process.

Many ISB members also commented on the need for more guidance regarding breach timing, selection of breach point, breach width, and total number of breaches.  FEMA will address and incorporate this information in future guidance documents.  Comments on the "freeboard deficient" alternatives are being considered as FEMA develops these procedures.  Based on feedback from the ISB, FEMA also plans to eliminate the 500-year protection option that was proposed by the Levee Analysis and Mapping Team.

In addition to the feedback noted above, FEMA has incorporated other comments received from the ISB and other reviewers into the Revised Analysis and Mapping Procedures for Non-Accredited Levees document that will be made available online to the public for 45 days.  The public review and comment period is an official, federally regulated process for receiving, managing, and incorporating stakeholder feedback.  If you would like to review the process in its entirety and provide further comment, please visit http://www.nfip-levee.com  upon its release in the coming weeks.

Top of page