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Flood insurance 'reform' continues in the Florida Legislature p2

Before we return to our discussion of the Legislature's flood insurance bill, we thought we would share some facts about Florida and flood insurance terminology.

First, the state boasts 663 miles of beaches, according to a variety of sources. One state slogan brags that wherever you go in Florida, you are never more than 60 miles from a beach. The state has close to 1,200 miles of coastline and just a tad more than 2,275 miles of tidal shoreline.

Confused? While the terms may be used interchangeably, there is a difference. According to ScienceClarified.com, the shoreline is the boundary between water and land. The shoreline changes daily through the regular action of waves and tides. The shoreline is not the shore, though. The shore is the strip of ground that borders the shoreline, the area of ground between the low tide mark and the high tide mark.

At the high tide mark, the coastline begins. The coastline is that boundary between the high tide line and everything else. The coast is the area that extends from that boundary to, as Science Clarified puts it, "the first major change in terrain features." That change is more significant than the parking lot, but it may be hard to discern. It could be a change in elevation -- the foothills of the Rockies -- or it could be a forest.

For its part, the National Flood Insurance Program's FloodSmart website features a glossary of terms that does not include the terms coast/coastline or shore/shoreline. FloodSmart does, however, give us a definition of floodplain -- a definition that strays from the standard Merriam-Webster definition.

A floodplain, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary website, is "an area of low, flat land along a stream or river that may flood," or "an area of land built up from soil left by floods." NFIP says a floodplain is "any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source" (emphasis ours) -- not too different, but different nonetheless.

Especially when you remember from our last post that floodplain management is such an integral part of NFIP.

So the government fudges a little in its definitions of key terms. No harm, no foul, right?

As usual, the answer is, "Maybe."

We'll continue the discussion in our next post.

Source: ScienceClarified.com, "Coast and Shore," accessed March 27, 2015

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