Project Overview: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was founded as part of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The main objectives of the program are to reduce disaster costs, encourage owners of flood-prone property to be proactive in addressing their risks, and to discourage development in flood hazard areas throughout the United States. The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the NFIP. Over the past half century, the NFIP has had a significant influence on the American public, changing how they live, recreate in, use, and manage flood hazard areas. Transitioning into the next 50 years, the NFIP will be perhaps more important than ever from a national perspective, given the present risk that flooding poses and the future risk it presents.

Project Purpose: In collaboration with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) and with support from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Natural Hazards Center is conducting a historical and prospective analysis to memorialize the NFIP’s most prominent impacts and to identify the most pressing issues that the program will have to address in the coming years. Retrospectively, this project will examine the NFIP’s contributions to the nation’s approach to flood risk management, document policies that have resulted from the program, and evaluate the impacts that it has had on everyday Americans. Looking forward, the project will offer a brief snapshot of the program’s current goals and discuss where it might go next.


Project Outcomes: The Natural Hazards Center team will create a book-style publication that will:

  • Provide a timeline of the early implementation and evolution of the NFIP
  • Identify and summarize reflections from the program’s past administrators
  • Specify the program’s overall accomplishments and benefits to society
  • Summarize how to program’s four key pillars of mapping, mitigation, insurance, and floodplain management have evolved over the past 50 years, focusing on how the NFIP has propelled each of these initiatives forward
  • Highlight how the program has promoted convergence and collaboration, and the benefits that such partnerships have produced for individual communities and property owners
  • Emphasize future needs of the program and participants with a particular eye toward social justice and equity issues
  • Shed light on future flooding conditions, population growth in hazardous areas, and how these factors, combined with rising economic inequality, will necessitate major interventions like the NFIP well into the future
  • Address the need for the program to continue and evolve by proposing potential areas for reform

Principal Investigator: Lori Peek, Natural Hazards Center and Department of Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder

Project Lead: Nnenia Campbell, Natural Hazards Center

Sponsor: Association of State Floodplain Managers (with funding from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Coordinators and Collaborators: Chad Berginnis, Executive Director, ASFPM and Bill Brown, Center Director, Flood Science Center, ASFPM