Last month, Coastal Connection picked up on the NBC News investigative report into questionable practices in FEMA's process for hearing and deciding appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which determine whether a building will have to be insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (see: "Is Contesting FEMA Flood Maps a Rich Man's Game?")
We weren't the only ones paying attention: NBC News is now reporting that the FBI is looking into the situation ("FBI Investigates FEMA Flood Map Changes After NBC News Report," by Bill Dedman). "FBI agents have conducted interviews in Washington over the past 10 days with employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the flood insurance program," the network reports. "Others outside the government also have been interviewed and have voluntarily provided documents, according to two people interviewed by the FBI. Employees at contractors that evaluate the map changes for FEMA are also being interviewed."
According to the NBC News report, the owners of some well-funded high-rise condo towers have been able to persuade FEMA to redraw flood maps so that the buildings would be placed outside the high-risk flood zones, reaping thousands in flood premium reductions—even though in some cases, the buildings have filed flood insurance claims after more than one recent hurricane and flood. Meanwhile, says NBC, individual homeowners without the money or connections to make their case to FEMA have typically given up and paid the higher premiums associated with flood map changes.