The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, which established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), mandated the mapping of floodprone areas and made flood insurance available in communities that met floodplain management requirements.
In 1972, Hurricane Agnes flooded Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. As flood hazards resulting from hurricanes impacted more communities, it became clear that more needed to be done to protect lives and property. The result was enactment of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973. This act mandated the purchase of flood insurance for insurable structures within floodprone areas as a condition of receipt of Federal or Federally-related financing.
In the early 1980s, the focus of the NFIP shifted to coastal areas and the effects of wave action. Wave heights began to be considered and Velocity Zones (V Zones) were reflected on flood maps for the first time. The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of the Department of the Interior was also enacted. This act established policy to deter development in coastal areas. The CBRA, while not prohibiting privately financed development, prohibits most new Federal financial assistance, including flood insurance, within a designated Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS).
Devastation from natural disasters continued through the early 1990s. Hurricane Andrew struck the United States in 1992. This disaster was followed by the Mississippi River flooding in 1993. The major flooding of this river set the stage for the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994. This act:
- Further strengthened flood insurance requirements, particularly with regard to the secondary mortgage market.
- Required that each community's NFIP maps be reviewed and assessed for map update needs at least once every 5 years.
- Allowed borrowers and lenders to jointly request that FEMA review lender determinations to ensure accuracy.
- Required distribution of Letters of Map Change and publication of a compendium listing in the Federal Register.
- Mandated the evaluation of coastal and riverine erosion hazards.
- Established the Technical Mapping Advisory Council to provide recommendations to FEMA
on how to improve the accuracy, quality, distribution, and use of NFIP maps.
In 1997, FEMA developed a plan to modernize the FEMA flood mapping program. The goal of FEMA's Map Modernization Plan is to upgrade the flood map inventory to improve map accuracy and completeness, map utility, map production, and public awareness and customer service.
One product of this plan has been the Cooperating Technical Partner initiative, which is being used to create innovative partnerships between FEMA and NFIP communities, and State and regional agencies that have advanced digital mapping and water resources engineering capability. Through this initiative, FEMA seeks qualified communities, State agencies, and regional agencies as partners in maintaining up-to-date Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs). The State of North Carolina has joined this initiative in becoming a Cooperating Technical State.