Head of Flood Group Hopes Funds Will Help to Modernize Maps

Last fall, Congress passed and the president signed legislation appropriating $200 million to update federal flood zone maps, and the National Flood Determination Association is one of the groups that backed that funding effort.

Tara Williams, the president of the NFDA, said the group's purpose is to represent the flood determination industry before the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other constituencies.

Now that funds have been appropriated for map modernization, Ms. Williams said the NFDA hopes FEMA can move forward with plans to create digital map databases that will facilitate greater electronic commerce between it and the flood determination companies.

She said the map modernization effort is important because many of the maps are out of date, having been published as far back as the 1980s. Since then, development and disaster activity have often necessitated changes in the boundaries surrounding flood hazard areas.

"We want to continue to work with FEMA and help them design the new maps," Ms. Williams, who is a senior vice president at Stewart Mortgage Information, said. "Our relationship with FEMA is very important."

She said a slowdown in loan origination activity will not necessarily slow down the demand for flood determinations. Flood companies also provide life of loan monitoring to note if any changes in flood insurance requirements crop up because of map changes or other issues.

It is the lender's legal responsibility to make sure that flood insurance is in place as mandated for most properties within a designated flood hazard area.

She said the map modernization program will likely increase the number of changes to the boundaries of flood hazard areas as a result of more precise mapping techniques.

The NFDA also hopes that FEMA uses the modernization program to move forward with digital mapping technology.

"We really need FEMA to employ GIS technology, so that flood companies can overlay information onto digital maps," Ms. Williams said.

The NFDA (www.floodassoc.com) is a national nonprofit trade association of companies, vendors and others who make, distribute or resell flood zone determinations..

Other board members are Cheryl Small, vice president, First American Flood Data Services; Matt Cole, treasurer, Nationwide Flood Research; Beth O'Brien, secretary, Geotrac; Tom Becker, director, FloodWatch; Robert Ogle, director, American Flood Research; and Vicki Chenault, director, First American Flood Data Services.

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