TAMPA, Fla. - Floridians are seeing flood risk in a whole new way thanks to a new online tool called Flood Factor, just launched Monday.
It was created by a nonprofit organization called First Street Foundation and is meant to give American homeowners a better idea of how vulnerable their property is to flooding.
"We built this product because we saw a gap in the market for how people understand risk today and how it changes in the future," explained executive director Matthew Eby.
The program uses decades of research to include environmental factors like rising sea levels, temperature change and rainfall patterns to formulate risk. The idea is to give users an assessment through the life of a 30-year mortgage.
You can search your address for free and get a risk score between one and 10.
"People can then understand and react appropriately versus continuing to operate with blinders on," said Eby.
Creators say the current FEMA models only rely on historical observations. Flood Factor shows that by 2050, one out of every four homes in Florida will have a substantial flood risk, an increase of over 300,000 homes.
"So there is a huge increase in flood risk that is happening over that short, 30-year period within the state itself, “explained Eby.
For example, one property in Apollo Beach, currently in FEMA's lower-risk Zone X, also has a 0% chance of flooding this year, according to Flood Factor. However, if you fast forward 30 years, the same property has a 25% chance of flooding, is scored as a 6 and labeled a "major flood factor."
Eby hopes people use the information to make wise decisions.
"The largest asset for the vast majority of Americans is their home. Some are investing their life savings and then finding out that there was all these potential risks that they weren’t aware of. So that’s why we created what we have today."