South Shore: Local professor weighs in on issues with FEMA flood plain map

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Marshfield and Scituate are not the only towns dealing with projected sky-rocketing flood insurance rates if the new FEMA maps and regulations go into effect. Otto Harling of Hingham, Professor Emeritus at MIT, is part of the Walton Cove Coalition. He said there are a couple problems with the whole FEMA flood plain map issue.

“Actually we approved the new map for the Hingham area in 2012 without knowing what we were getting into, we were basically blindsided. Both the town administration and citizens voted it through, thought it was a performer thing without understanding it would have a draconian effect to the people who were newly mapped into the flood zone,” said Harling.

Now he says the number of homes in his neighborhood has gone from 12 to 50.

He said what is particularly distressing is that the previous map, made in 1986, is exactly correct. Predicting the maximum levels of all the major storms include the Perfect Storm and Sandy. None of the storms went anywhere near the boundaries of the previous map. He said the new map doesn’t make sense.

Interestingly enough, Harling also says FEMA does other things and has other programs besides their national flood insurance program.

“In that national flood insurance program you will see that the number of premiums dollars put into the national flood insurance program and the outlay due to losses leads to the currently positive balance of 6.2 billion dollars,” said Harling.

Harling says it appears FEMA gives out money to people who have faced disaster for things like wind damage whether they have insurance or not. He says this should be debated by and funded for by Congress, not people who pay for flood insurance.

About Christine James

Christine James has been a fixture at WATD since 1990. Along the way in her WATD newsroom journey, she has won numerous broadcast awards including the Associated Press and Edward R. Murrow Regional Award for "Best Newscast."