The final phase of a lengthy and complex process for determining flood insurance rates is nearing an end — and the news isn’t necessarily good for many in Montgomery County.
Communities across the nation utilize a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In short, the maps determine who is and isn’t required to pay flood insurance.
The current FIRMs for Montgomery County pre-date the iPod, Michael Jordan’s retirement from basketball and President Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. Most went into effect in 1996, a couple of others in 1999. A new set is rounding the corner for 2014.
“The models that we used for the previous map were very old,” said Diana Herrera, FEMA floodplain specialist for Coastal Texas. “We have new models that show just how far technology has come and allow us to do more accurate maps.”
The LFD also initiates a six-month adoption/compliance period during which all those who suddenly find themselves requiring flood insurance — get flood insurance.
But until February, Herrera nudged the curious to explore RiskMAP6 online at http://bit.ly/19VrBZm. The interactive map houses preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map data.
When accessed initially, the map automatically checks “Base Flood Elevations (BFEs),” “Flood Hazard Areas” and “Communities.” Herrera suggested users uncheck all of these under “map layers” (displayed on the left side of the screen).
Once those map layers are cleared, she advised checking the “Change Layer” box which filters the data into a handy color-coded system. Areas shaded in red depict a Special Flood Hazard Area increase (SFHA). These areas have been added to the preliminary FIRM and will likely require flood insurance. Those shaded in green depict a SFHA decrease. These areas have been removed from the preliminary FIRM and will likely no longer require flood insurance.
The SFHA is the area where the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies.
RiskMAP6 is worth exploring. The former Camp Strake area, turned Johnson Development Corp. project, has been almost completely removed from the SFHA while a nearly proportionate amount of land on the east side of Interstate 45 has been added to the SFHA.
-Down in South County, well over 100 properties in the City of Oak Ridge North near Robinson Road, and close to Interstate 45, have been added to the SFHA while a smaller cluster of homes further south along Maplewood Drive, between Hillside Drive and Birchwood Drive, have been removed from the SFHA.
-Over in The Woodlands, a large area, including a sliver overlapping part of The Woodlands High School campus, has been added to the SFHA.
-Smaller clusters near The Woodlands Country Club Palmer Course, The Club at Carlton Woods and Alden Bridge Park have been been removed from the SFHA.
Herrera noted that even if an SFHA increase boundary only partially crossed a property’s structure it was still subject to SFHA regulation.
“Know your risk and don’t think that just because you’re not in a high-risk flood area means you’re not subject to flooding,” Herrera said. “You should always check with your insurance agent to check for the cost of flood insurance.”
Still, insurance companies will have to wait like everyone else for the 2014 FIRM to become effective and, until then, will have to continue their respective flood insurance pricing using the current FIRM.