|San Jacinto News-Times - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
New county flood map draws opposition
San Jacinto News- Times
COLDSPRING – A new fl ood map and ordinance created for San Jacinto County by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and released after being adopted by San Jacinto County Commissioners’ Court in November has added about 100 residents to those already identifi ed in fl ood-prone areas of the county, catching some by surprise. According to Cape Royale resident Linda Walker, she and her husband were unaware of residing in the county’s new fl ood plain until a couple of weeks ago. “The fi rst week in December we received a letter from our mortgage holder stating that our home had recently been placed in a fl ood hazard zone by FEMA and that it is mandatory that we purchase fl ood insurance by Jan. 15, or the mortgage company would place the insurance for us,” Walker said. “I urge everyone, especially those who live near water (lake or stream) to be certain they have not been placed in this new fl ood plain,” Walker said. The new fl ood maps are a result of appropriated funds directed to FEMA by Congress in 2003 to create the Flood Map Modernization program, which used the latest data and technology to update the maps, according to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program. Many property owners now fi nd themselves in high-risk areas where they are required by lenders to purchase fl ood insurance. FEMA recognizes the fi nancial hardship that Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) designation may place on individuals in newly identifi ed high fl ood risk zones; consequently, FEMA is extending eligibility for lowcost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) fl ood insurance starting Jan. 1, 2011. A PRP premium for a residential building and contents ranges from as low as $129 for $20,000 in building and $8,000 in contents coverage to as high as $405 for the maximum $250,000 building and $100,000 contents coverage. A residential tenant can get coverage for as low as $49 for $8,000 in contents coverage, according to FEMA. In order to receive reduced premiums, the property must meet PRP eligibility requirements related to claims and disaster aid. There are additional rating options offered through the National Flood Insurance Program, which may result in additional savings such as grandfathering, elevation rating and higher deductibles, according to FEMA. “The county on Nov. 9, accepted the maps and ordinance that will control all that is built in the areas FEMA determined to be fl ood prone without actually placing foot on the land themselves, which will cover a great deal of Lake Livingston shoreline and streams throughout the county that have never fl ooded before,” Walker said. According to a map obtained from San Jacinto County Emergency Management Coordinator Judy Eaton, the new fl ood prone areas are located mostly in Precinct 4 in subdivisions located on Lake Livingston. “I live on Lake Livingston. My fi rst thought was there has to be a mistake for this lake is controlled by the Trinity River Authority (TRA) and is a constant level lake not to exceed 135 feet and my home is at an elevation of 142 feet. I would have never dreamed we would be in the fl ood plain when we built in 2006,” Walker said. Walker believes the new fl ood map gives FEMA control of building, remodeling and use of Lake Livingston. “Residents will loose more control of the use of their properties. Home values will drop for the properties in this so called fl ood zone. I think this is sad for a lake that is not supposed to fl ood,” Walker said. Walker said the only remedy offered by FEMA is called a Life Offi ce Management Association (LOMA). “I have to obtain an elevation survey at a cost of around $1,000 through a registered engineer or surveyor proving that my structure is above the fl ood plain. This will take 30 to 60 days after I get the elevation survey. So for now I must purchase fl ood insurance and satisfy my mortgage company before they place a very expensive forced policy on my home,” Walker said Owners of buildings newly mapped into a Special Flood Hazard Area due to the map revision effective on or after Oct. 1, 2008 and before Jan. 1, 2011 are eligible to receive a reduced premium for up to two policy years beginning Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012. A policy for a home without a basement is $343 for $200,000 in building and $80,000 in contents coverage for a Preferred Risk Policy versus more than $1,400 for a standard-rated policy in a zone not within a flood plain and even more if rated in a high-risk flood zone – a savings of more than $1,000 a year, according to FEMA. San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner is currently arranging a public meeting for the last of January or the first of February with FEMA to help assist residents with questions about map changes. Two public meetings were held earlier this year in the county concerning FEMA’s remapping project.