Federal Flood Standard

An aerial photo of a flooded neighborhood.

Following the experience of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama adopted the recommendation of the Hurricane Sandy Task Force and issued a Federal Flood Standard which required that post-disaster infrastructure rebuilds account for climate change-related risk factors, such as increased potential levels of sea rise and storm surge.

In August 2017, President Trump summarily withdrew the Federal Flood Standard shortly before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. As a result, federal funds spent in rebuilding Houston, Puerto Rico, fire-ravaged areas of California, and other regions recovering from natural disasters are no longer required to take into account climate-related risk factors.

In October 2017, attorneys general from five states and the District of Columbia wrote a letter to congressional leadership requesting reinstatement of the Federal Flood Standard. The updated standard would direct federal agencies to apply the latest scientific information on flood risks, management, and planning to any federal project rebuilds in flood or fire prone areas. The attorneys general pointed out that the updated standard would protect critical infrastructure, such as bridges and roads; save taxpayers' dollars; and ensure the safety of communities from future flooding and other natural disasters.