Deadlines approach for new Collier flood maps; residents 'need to check' them

■ 2012 flood maps already are in effect for Naples building permits.

■ New flood maps become effective on unincorporated Collier County building permits as of March 30.

■ Maps are effective for insurance purposes in all areas as of 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.

— Collier County property owners have homework to do as flood zone maps change for the first time in seven years.

Officials are urging anyone who owns property to go to their government's website and enter their address into interactive tools to ensure the new Federal Emergency Management Flood Zone Maps don't mean they now need to insure their homes.

"All property owners within the county and the cities need to check the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map to see if there have been flood zone or flood elevation changes impacting their property," Robert Wiley, Collier County flood zone map project manager, wrote in an email to the Daily News this week.

Public meetings were held throughout the area during the past several months. If property owners didn't attend any of them or haven't checked the maps yet, there are only about two months left to learn of any changed designations.

Map categorization changes may affect the requirements and rates for property flood insurance policies. So within the next several weeks, property owners may need to contact and acquire insurance depending on whether those flood category changes will save them money or cost them more.

The 2012 Flood Zone Maps for all areas, including unincorporated Collier County as well as the cities of Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City, go into effect May 16 for insurance purposes.

The new maps already are in effect for building permits in Naples, the result of a Naples City Council decision Wednesday. They will go into effect for building permits obtained through Collier County government on March 30, county commissioners decided in January.

Though it would be nice to pinpoint precisely who will be affected and how, that's something that can't easily be done by county or city officials on behalf of all property owners, according to Wiley and city of Naples Floodplain Coordinator Christa Carrera.

"Unfortunately, we do not have any type of a count on the properties (in the city of Naples) that changed either for the better or worse based on the new flood maps. What I can tell you is most properties located within the city limits did see a change of some type though," Carrera said.

Collier County, Naples and Marco Island have interactive flood map tools on their websites for property owners to learn how the changes from the 2005 maps to the 2012 maps affect them.

Property owners in Naples can find out if their property lies in an area susceptible to flooding, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas or flood zones, by going to the city's website, naplesgov.com, and entering their address.

Marco Island property owners have a similar tool available through their city website, cityofmarcoisland.com.

All Collier property owners are urged to find out their property's floodplain designation by going to www.colliergov.net/floodmaps.

Earlier news reports indicated that about 30,000 more Collier County property owners may need to acquire flood insurance by the May 16 effective date, but it's not that simple, Wiley recently wrote in an email to the Daily News.

All property owners in the unincorporated area and cities need to check the maps to see if there have been flood zone or flood elevation changes for their property, he said.

This "is a totally new map with changes to flood zone types, flood zone locations, and flood elevations. There is no simple single answer to address those three issues for all properties," Wiley said.

The implications for a property owner concerning their flood insurance needs and costs vary based on several factors, officials said.

There are legal requirements for some owners to get flood insurance policies, such as for structures in the high-risk "A" or "V" zones on the FEMA flood map that have certain types of mortgages or whose owner received federal money for the property.

Affected are any "structures with any federal dollars attached, typically through a federally backed mortgage, but also including structures that had received federal grants," Wiley said.

Still, due to the map changes, about 30,000 properties need to be evaluated to see if the owners would be required to purchase flood insurance, he said.

The bulk of these properties generally are inland from U.S. 41, Wiley said, and come from incorporating new rainfall-induced flood data into the maps.

Government officials are hesitant to make generalizations about how the maps affect varying pockets of the county and cities because they don't want people to avoid looking into the particulars of their property, as each are affected uniquely.

Generally, Golden Gate and the Golden Gate Estates areas are among the most affected in Collier.

Carrera noted several trends in the maps of 2012 vs. the old maps of 2005 for Naples.

The cost of new construction on the east side of Gordon Drive and Gulf Shore Boulevard may decrease with slightly less-risky flood designations there, Carrera said.

"Many properties that were in an 'X' flood zone prior to the 2005 flood maps but were put in a Special Flood Hazard Area ('AH' zone) most likely will be reverted back to an 'X' flood zone, therefore eliminating the mandatory flood insurance requirement," Carrera said.

An "X" zone is a zone above the base flood elevation while an "AH" zone indicates a 1 percent annual chance of flooding from rainfall with water depths up to 3 feet.

Some Naples properties likely need flood insurance under the new maps, but didn't previously. Among them are some properties in the city between U.S. 41 and Goodlette-Frank Road, due to changing from an "X" flood zone to a Special Flood Hazard Area or "AH" zone, she said.

This is the type of change that also is occurring in some portions of Golden Gate Estates.

"Properties that saw a reduction in elevation requirements should contact a surveyor and get an updated elevation certificate and verify with their flood insurance company that their flood policy is being rated properly with the change," Carrera wrote in an email to the Daily News.

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

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