FEMA to make changes to flood maps, will remove 10,000 Collier properties from high-risk zone

Collier County flood map

Collier County flood map

■ Maps are effective for insurance purposes in all areas as of Wednesday, May 16.

■ To find out a Collier County property’s floodplain designation go to www.colliergov.net/floodmaps.

■ Property owners can call (239) 252-2942 with questions about the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

■ Property owners in the city of Naples can find if their flood status changed at naplesgov.com. (The direct web address is napgis.naplesgov.com/NIMA.) Enter your address and if you still need confirmation of the property’s official flood zone designation, contact a flood insurance agent or Naples Floodplain Coordinator Christa Carrera at ccarrera@naplesgov.com or (239) 213-5039. (city-only calls)

■ Marco Island property owners have a tool on the city’s website: cityofmarcoisland.com

■ Everglades City property owners should go to the Collier County government site or contact Everglades City Hall for more information (239) 695-2511.

— Flood map information seems to be changing like the wind.

Thousands of Collier County property owners had learned that, as of two weeks ago, new flood maps meant a need for new flood insurance policies. Now, many are about to learn they’re not in such a high flood risk area after all, and may not need that new flood insurance policy.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that about 10,000 properties in unincorporated Collier County and 20 properties in Naples will be removed from the high-risk zones on the maps that went into effect May 16, according to a prepared statement Friday from county government spokeswoman Connie Deane.

It isn’t known yet which properties those are, officials said. Their general locations aren’t known either, other than they aren’t in Everglades City or Marco Island.

“Neither the property owners nor Collier County (staff members) know the locations until FEMA can provide them to the county,” Collier government spokeswoman Margie Hapke wrote Friday in an email to the Daily News.

Specific address information is scheduled to be available online by June 14, officials said.

“This was proactive on FEMA’s part. This was an initiative FEMA has taken on for the most cost-effective and least expensive way for the people … They’ve never done this before,” said Robert Wiley, Collier County flood zone map project manager.

This cost-effective process to issue map amendments is called full panel Letters of Map Amendments.

Flood maps can be amended at any time, even after they go into effect, to incorporate updated data. This will continue to occur, Wiley said.

Because the most recent elevation data wasn’t included in its entirety when preparing the maps that just went into effect, amendments will be made to remove some properties shown in high-risk areas of flooding, officials said. These areas are called Special Flood Hazard Areas.

By removing properties from high-risk areas of flooding on insurance maps, this also removes the federal mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement for those properties. However, a mortgage lender, as a condition of the mortgage loan, may require the property owner to purchase flood insurance in any flood zone.

The cause for this recent change was that more flood elevation information became available to Collier County after the FEMA map updates were done, Wiley said.

The updated information centered around new Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) topographic information, county officials said.

The initial estimate of the number of properties affected by this latest change was based on a quick analysis from GIS, Wiley said.

“FEMA did a very quick assessment… The numbers may change,” he said.

By June 14, map amendment documents will be available through the Collier County Land Development Services website with the final number of properties and exact addresses, officials said. Residents who may be affected are encouraged around that date to visit the county’s website, Colliergov.net, and go to the flood map pages, or call the Collier County Floodplain Hotline at (239) 252-2942 to find out if their property is affected.

Earlier

Bought flood insurance for a home located in the new high-risk flood zone areas of Collier County? Not so fast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with local officials, has initiated a cost-effective process to issue map amendments, called full panel Letters of Map Amendments, that will remove about 10,000 properties in the unincorporated areas of Collier County, and about 20 properties in Naples, from the high-risk areas of flooding shown on new flood insurance rate maps.

These maps, which became effective on May 16, were produced through the cooperative efforts of Collier County and FEMA. Flood maps show the extent to which areas are at risk of flooding, and they’re used to help determine flood insurance requirements.

Flood maps can be amended at any time, even after they become effective, to incorporate updated data. Because the most recent elevation data was not included in its entirety when preparing the maps that just went into effect, amendments will made to remove some properties shown in the high-risk areas of flooding. These areas are called Special Flood Hazard Areas. These map amendments apply to some properties in the unincorporated areas of Collier County and the city of Naples. They do not apply to properties in Everglades City or the city of Marco Island.

By removing properties from high-risk areas of flooding on flood insurance rate maps, this also removes the federal mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement for those properties. However, a mortgage lender, as a condition of the mortgage loan, may require the purchase of flood insurance in any flood zone.

FEMA typically evaluates amendment applications individually after they are submitted. This is the first time that FEMA has undertaken this initiative to issue full panel amendments. This new process minimizes the financial burden for affected property owners, while reducing the burden on the general taxpayer. These map amendments will provide property owners and community officials with the most accurate flood hazard and risk information possible.

On June 14, map amendment documents will be available through the Collier County Land Development Services website and through the FEMA Map Information eXchange website. Residents who may be affected are encouraged to visit these websites, or call the Collier County Floodplain Hotline at (239) 252-2942 to find out if their property will be removed from the SFHAs shown on the new maps.

Collier County residents who are not affected by these amendments but feel their property is incorrectly depicted on the new flood maps may also request a amendment through the standard LOMA application process. Application forms and instructions on how to submit an application can be found here.

By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. Even people living outside of high-risk areas can experience flooding, which is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S. That’s why everyone, regardless of their flood zone, should take steps to financially protect themselves from a disaster which affects far too many communities each year. The primary way to do that is by purchasing flood insurance. It’s available at affordable rates through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a voluntary program administered by FEMA. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information about flood insurance.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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