FEMA's ongoing program to revise the agency's Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMS, is washing over one coastal area after another. This fall, new maps have been released in Maine — spurring their own wave of denial, anger, and grief, reports the Bangor Daily News. (For the full story, see: "Proposed new flood maps to send shock waves along Rockland waterfront," by Stephen Betts).
Citizen reaction in Maine echoes that from other states where the new maps have been released. Reports the Daily News: "City officials say they are frustrated by FEMA's lack of candor on how the maps were developed. FEMA will not release information to the communities on how the maps were developed until the release of the preliminary maps, and then communities and property owners have only 90 days to file appeals. Even then, documents that FEMA classifies as working papers are considered proprietary and are not released, said Rockland City Manager James Smith. Smith said that the areas in Rockland which have been added to the flood zones have never flooded. While FEMA would make it more difficult to build on the waterfront in Rockland, the agency is helping areas in New Orleans and New Jersey rebuild where there is regular flooding. 'This defies reason and common sense,' Smith said."
Concern is also rising in Portland, Maine's largest city, reports the Portland Press-Herald (for the full report, see: "New flood zones to hit some Maine landowners hard," by Jessica Hall and J. Craig Anderson). But there, FEMA has already released one set of proposed maps, only to withdraw the maps and start over after Mainers raised objections. Reports the Press-Herald: "The maps released Tuesday by FEMA will replace maps issued in 2009 that prompted an outcry from municipalities about mistakes and miscalculations. After hundreds of homeowners appealed their inclusion in flood zones, FEMA scrapped the maps in 2010 and restarted the analysis. At the time, municipal officials and property owners said the maps didn't accurately represent the terrain or account for the protection offered by Maine's jagged coastline, including islands, protected harbors, artificial barriers and underwater ledges."
A quick look at the new Maine maps indicates that their reach will, in fact, be scaled back significantly compared to the earlier releases. The new maps are available online in PDF format at the FEMA Map Service Center under "Preliminary FEMA Map Products" website . The page offers a search function where users can look up preliminary maps, by state and county, for any locations where proposed maps have been published.