Mapping Project: Biggert-Waters Impacts in Tidewater Virginia

To get a first look at how the changes brought by the Biggert-Waters Act would play out, we developed a series of maps to show which communities would be affected by different aspects of the Biggert-Waters Act. While parts of the Act have been repealed and reformed, the maps below are still applicable under the most recent Grimm-Waters reforms. Subsidized policyholder will still be gradually losing their subsidies, and primary homes will be treated differently than secondary homes and businesses.


Map 1 shows the total number of properties that will experience rate increases by late 2013. This includes subsidized business (non-residential) properties, subsidized secondary homes, severe repetitive loss properties, properties that have been paid claims for damages exceeding the value of the structure, and structures that undergo improvements of 50% or more or damages of 50% or more of the market value of the structure (the latter two categories are not mapped). The reforms for these types of property types are still in effect after the Grimm-Waters reforms.

Map 2 indicates the total number of subsidized properties in each locality. Each of these properties will experience rate increases as those subsidies are eliminated.


Map 3 shows the percentage of policyholders that are subsidized (compared to all policyholders), which indicates to what extent each locality will be affected by the elimination of subsidies brought by the flood insurance reforms. While some communities may have high numbers of subsidized policyholders, they may have a low percentage of subsidized policyholders overall, indicating that even though there will be a lot of families affected the impact on the community as a whole will be lower than in localities with high percentages but a smaller number of families affected.

Map 4 shows which types of properties (business, secondary or primary home) will be most affected in each locality. The type of structure that is most affected suggests the ways in which a community overall may be affected. In many cases, affected primary homeowners will struggle more than secondary homeowners because secondary homeowners ultimately have the option of selling the home without being uprooted from the primary home. If primary homeowners must leave their home as a result of insurance costs, it is possible that a "hollowing out" of that community could result when people have difficult selling or even default on mortgages. On the other hand, if many secondary homes are sold, there is the chance that those communities could experience gentrification, where the costs of coastal living are too high for all but the wealthy. It is important to compare this map with the others in the series to get a broad understanding of these impacts.


Map 5 shows the number of primary homes in each locality that are subsidized. It is possible that some properties will experience rate decreases as subsidies are eliminated, based on how high the structure is in relation to the expected flood levels.

Map 6 shows the number of businesses (non-residential properties) in each locality that are subsidized. These properties will begin to see rate increases in late 2013 as subsidies are eliminated. It is possible that some properties will experience rate decreases as subsidies are eliminated, based on how high the structure is in relation to the expected flood levels.


To see the raw nationwide data from the Association of State Floodplain Managers, click here.

To see this and other nationwide data mapped by FEMA, visible at the locality level, click here.