1. What are the FIRST Score® and the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ Reports?
The FIRST Score® and the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ Reportsare Coastal Risk’s propriety model and business process that provide a coastal climate impact risk assessment at the parcel level for all coastal properties in the US. The FIRST Score® and the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ use our state-of-the-art algorithms to: (1) analyze large, publicly-available datasets; and, (2) provide current and future climate risk assessments for individual properties.
The FIRST Score® is a screening level report that includes three types of flooding (tidal, storm, and heavy rainfall/high groundwater), identifies governmental risk zones, such as FEMA Flood Zone, Wind Zone, Evacuation Zone, and more. The FIRST Score® also calculates the number of non-storm, tidally-influenced flood days predicted for a particular property over the next thirty-years (stated in five-year increments). Thirty-years is the standard length for a residential property mortgage. To provide this analysis, accurate altitudinal information is combined with tide data, sea level rise, land subsidence, in combination with an assessment of local conditions. The actual and projected flood days are added to produce the FIRST SCORE®, allowing a property owner to assess not only personal risk, but also to compare and take into consideration other properties in the area.
The full Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment Report provides detailed aerial photographs and GIS overlays that visualize tidal and storm flooding over a 30-year period for the customer’s specific house or property. The Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ includes the proprietary FIRST SCORE®, the GIS maps with inundation locations and depths, and a LIDAR Elevation Map for the specific property. The Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ accelerates the transition from climate education to adaptation action. It helps property owners, buyers of real estate and others involved in real estate due diligence decisions, such as insurance and mortgage underwriting, gain easy and rapid access to parcel-specific, coastal climate risk assessments.
Coastal Risk provides the only online flood risk technology that helps answer these ten questions for each coastal property:
1. When to expect tidal/sea level rise flooding at the LIDAR/parcel level?
2. How many days per year will the flooding occur? How deep it will get?
3. What is the expected depth of inundation from hurricane storm surge at various tidal stages?
4. Where on the properties will the flooding occur?
5. What adaptation/resiliency measures to take?
6. How high to make the improvements?
7. How long the improvements will last?
8. Will they be cost-effective?
9. Can the customer afford them? Do they have sufficient reserve funds?
10. When to begin to adapt?
2. It’s 2016. Why should I care about understanding how sea level rise (SLR) and other coastal dynamics will affect my property in the future?
If you could see into the future and, you could know what will happen to your house, your neighborhood, the grocery store parking lot, and, the route you travel to work, it would be extremely valuable. Actually, in many parts of the world, you can. In US coastal areas, we are currently experiencing “King” or astronomical high tides. King Tides are the highest high tides of the year, occurring when the sun and moon are in alignment and closer to the Earth. King Tides give us a preview of the future, because the highest tides of today will be the average water levels of the future as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change. Each inch of sea level rise makes it easier for high tides to flood areas that never used to flood, and for storm surges to reach places they previously wouldn’t have. Sea level rise makes tidal flooding (and King Tides) an increasingly common occurrence. As we saw with Superstorm Sandy, which did not even pack hurricane force winds, storms ride in on top of the tides and cause loss of life and billions of dollars in damages. As the Christian Science Monitor presciently predicted on October 29, 2012, “Heaven and Earth may be aligning to turn Hurricane Sandy into a real monster, just in time for Halloween.” http://m.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/1029/Hurricane-Sandy-Does-a-full-moon-cause-high-tides-How.
In some cities like Miami Beach, local governments are already spending millions of dollars to pump high-tide sea water off the streets. In other places, like Norfolk, VA, individuals are raising their homes and installing flood vents to stop rising tides from cracking their foundations. These are examples of climate change adaptations that are being taken, now, as a result of rising sea levels. Miami Beach and Norfolk know what they have to do, because they are experiencing climate impacts, today. For the majority of governments, businesses, and billions of individuals living along coastlines around the world, they simply don’t have access to climate impact analyses at an appropriate level of granularity in order to make intelligent decisions on the allocation of limited adaptation resources. They need online tools to better understand what a future world will look like in a changing climate. This is why Coastal Risk Consulting, LLC, has developed an online flood score for individual properties using high-resolution elevation data, local tidal gauges, US Army Corps of Engineers models and other publicly-available data (www.floodscores.com).
The Harvard Business Review recently commented on Coastal Risk’s technology in its January 2016 issue: "What will this adaptation look like? The answer varies by location. Companies such as Coastal Risk Consulting are developing flood risk statistical models at the parcel level. Competition in forming accurate forecasts will incentivize such firms to design high-quality, useful forecasts. Real estate investors will have strong incentives to respond to these forecasts."
As a home or business owner, you should be aware that increased and repetitive tidally influenced flooding will increase repair and maintenance costs. These added costs may affect property owners’ ability to repay their mortgage loans and may also lower the fair market value of their properties.
3. How accurate are the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ and the FIRST SCORE®?
Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ and FIRST SCORE® are based on the best available, continually-updated science from well-tested, accurate sources including: (1) LIDAR remote sensing; (2) US Army Corps of Engineers’ and NOAA Sea Level Rise Models; (3) aerial photography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS); (4) long-term tidal readings from NOAA; (5) tidal data from USGS; and, (6) government and peer-reviewed local adjustment factors such as land subsidence, erosion, groundwater, etc. Our model, algorithms, and databases are regularly peer-reviewed by our own and outside experts and updated, as required. According to one of Coastal Risk’s external peer-reviewers, a tenured university professor and one of the top climate scientists in the US: “First and foremost, the methodology is unique and scientifically sound. In particular, the use of LIDAR measurements for elevation, USACE Sea Level Change Curve Calculator for projections, and nearest tide gage data are all on firm scientific ground. The NOAA SLOSH model – maximum of maximums (MOMs) data has been widely used in the scientific community and is fully-recognized as state of the art.”
4. Can the Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ and the FIRST SCORE® change over time? Will the databases and the algorithms be updated?
Our model, algorithms, and databases are regularly reviewed by our Science Team and outside experts and updated as required. Projections for sea level rise and other data inputs are being evaluated on a continuous basis. Coastal Risk Consulting, LLC experts monitor new data and adjust our algorithms and models with the latest information and scientific tools to provide the most accurate scientific projections for your property, which may change over time.
5. If I have a high FIRST SCORE® for my property, are there steps I can take to make the property climate ready and storm safe?
WHAT TO DO IF I GET A HIGH FLOOD SCORE?
Let’s say you’re a Coastal Risk customer and, like hundreds of others, you’ve purchased a FIRST Score® or Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ online (www.floodscores.com). Let’s say that your flood score was high for tidal/sea level rise, storm surge or heavy rainfall flooding.
What should you do? What can you do?
There are actually a number of cost-effective measures that you can take to make your property safer from flooding. If you have a high flood score and you do nothing, you’re at higher risk for flood damages to carpeting, furniture, walls, appliances, lighting, electronics and keepsakes. Mold may soon follow. You could find yourself ripping out drywall to reach soaked insulation, tearing up flooring and replacing electrical systems. No amount of flood insurance can make up for loss of health due to a mold infection.
According to Dr. Keren Bolter, Coastal Risk’s Science Director, “The current base flood elevation of your home and yard is important in determining flood insurance, but you also need to know how future climate changes like sea level rise, storm surges and heavy rainfall will affect your property. FEMA floodplain maps alone won’t tell you that. Coastal Risk’s First Score® and Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™ will help you make better flood-proofing decisions for you and your family.”
Be sure to use licensed and insured contractors to make any modifications to your home. Check with your local building department about permit requirements.
#1. Elevate electrical and climate systems
Consider raising switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring above the FIRST Score® flood level in your area. Modify your furnace, water heater and any other anchored indoor equipment so that it sits above your property's flood level and, if possible, not in your basement.
#2. Elevate and anchor outdoor HVAC equipment
Fuel tanks, air-conditioning units and generators should be raised above your FIRST Score® flood level and anchored. Unanchored fuel tanks can break free, and severed supply lines can contaminate surrounding grounds.
#3. Modify water and sewer valves
Storms and rising tides can cause your community’s sewer system to flood with sewage, groundwater and seawater. A flooded sewer system can cause sewage to back up into your home. Install interior and/or exterior backflow valves. A licensed plumber can install backflow preventers.
#4. Evaluate landscaping for how water flows around your home
A qualified landscaper or landscape architect can help you evaluate the grading or slope of your property. The angle of the ground can direct water to or from your house. It's best if water drains away from your home’s foundation. The Coastal Risk FIRST Score® can help guide you and your professionals to prevent low spots that will collect flood waters over time.
If your street or neighborhood is prone to standing water with seasonal high tides or even after an ordinary rainstorm, contact Coastal Risk for a custom, neighborhood FIRST Score® or a Coastal Risk Rapid Assessment™. If the neighborhood FIRST Score® is high, you may want to speak with your county planning or floodplain managers to discuss installation of flood prevention measures in your area.
#5. Consider Flood Control Products
There are a wide variety of flood control products on the market, today. These include removable flood doors or barriers that can be placed across breezeways, doors, garages, etc. Make sure that you thoroughly research any company that you deal with and that they provide warranties on installation, etc. Storm shutters and impact glass have been available for many years and should be considered standard for all properties in the hurricane storm surge zones.
#6. Opt for a major retrofit
If your home has a high FIRST Score®, or if it has already experienced storm or tidal floods (and moving isn't desired or feasible), then, you may need to consider raising your home and/or installing flood vents under your home’s foundation.
• Coastal Risk’s FIRST Score® can help you understand how high to raise your home on piers or columns and how that will lower your flood score.
• Foundation flood vents allow water to flow under the building, instead of rising inside or cracking the home’s foundation, as rising tides push groundwater upwards against the foundation.
• Use of exterior coatings – in some cases, applying water-repellent coatings and other sealing materials to your exterior walls and foundation can help to keep out floods, groundwater and tidewater.
#7. Last-minute measures as waters rise
• Clear drains, downspouts and gutters.
• Raise furniture, rugs, electronics and other valuables to upper floors, or raise them off the ground floor.
• Shut off electricity at the breaker panel.
• Elevate major appliances onto concrete blocks.
• Consider the locations of any household chemicals, paints, fertilizers, herbicides, and oils. Move to higher ground and/or contain them to prevent seepage and contamination.
If you’d like to speak with a Coastal Risk consultant about your particular situation, please call Customer Service at 844-SEA-RISE (732-7473) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.