The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed a plan in 1997 to modernize the FEMA flood mapping program. FEMA flood maps delineate flood hazard areas in support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). FEMA's plan outlined the steps necessary to update FEMA's flood maps for the nation to a seamless digital format and streamline FEMA's operations in raising public awareness of the importance of the maps and responding to requests to revise them. The modernization of flood maps involves conversion of existing information to digital format and integration of improved flood hazard data as needed. To determine flood mapping modernization needs, FEMA has established specific scoping activities to be done on a county-by-county basis for identifying and prioritizing requisite flood-mapping activities for map modernization. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with FEMA and the Maine Floodplain Management Program (MFMP) State Planning Office, began scoping work in 2006 for Hancock County. Scoping activities included assembling existing data and map needs information for communities in Hancock County, documentation of data, contacts, community meetings, and prioritized mapping needs in a final scoping report (this document), and updating the Mapping Needs Update Support System (MNUSS) database with information gathered during the scoping process.
The average age of the FEMA floodplain maps (all types) in Hancock County, Maine, is at least 19 years. Most of these studies were published in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and no study is more recent than 1992. Some towns have partial maps that are more recent than their study, indicating that the true average age of the data is probably more than 19 years. Since the studies were done, development has occurred in some of the watersheds and the characteristics of the watersheds have changed. Therefore, many of the older studies may not depict current conditions or accurately estimate risk in terms of flood heights or flood mapping.