The Federal Insurance Management Agency (FEMA) will hold an open house on Monday, April 27, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of MLK Plaza on the third floor of the old Amtrak Train Station to present new preliminary digital flood insurance rate maps for Lucas County.
Officials from FEMA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will be on hand to answer questions from the public.
The public can download the preliminary floodplain maps on the front page of the Lucas County Web site at http://www.co.lucas.oh.us to see if their property is in the revised floodplains.
The final maps will become effective in early 2010.
Most owners of buildings going into floodplains will have to purchase flood insurance, but that insurance can be purchased at a much cheaper rate before the new maps become effective.
It can be difficult to determine if homes are inside or outside the flood zones shown as shaded areas on small scale maps on the current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), according to FEMA. It is easier to determine in the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps, available from any computer with Internet access.
Current paper maps had some revisions in 2000 but most floodplains were based on studies performed in the 1970s, according to FEMA. Much development has occurred since then. Data is now available along with computer programs to perform studies to determine more precisely which areas are likely to flood. The Base Flood Elevation near the lake is based on a recent study of the Great Lakes by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman said most of the Otter Creek watershed, and the entire Lake Erie shoreline are floodplain areas in the city.
“Also in South Park, and most of the north side of Bay Shore Road as well,” said Roman. “Anyone in those areas would be wise to go to the meeting to see what the difference is, and try to find their homes on the map.”
It is estimated that there are 13,541 parcels in the current flood zones. With the revised maps, approximately 2,000 parcels will go into the floodplain, and 1,800 will come out for a net gain of 200 parcels touching the floodplains. The limits of the floodplains will change on some of the 13,541 parcels, so there could be homes on these parcels that are not currently in the floodplain, but will be on the revised maps. Conversely, some homes on those parcels might go out of the revised floodplains, according to FEMA.
Federally regulated lenders must require owners of buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Areas to obtain flood insurance on the mortgage amount. Currently, there are 2,411 flood insurance policies for buildings on the 13,541 parcels in all of Lucas County in the existing floodplain, and the average premium is about $700 per year. Once those new rates become effective, those who let their previous policies lapse will have to purchase flood insurance at a much higher rate.
Those going out of high risk flood zones will no longer be federally mandated to maintain flood insurance, though there may still be some risk of flooding, according to FEMA. As a result, it could be required by lenders and it might be a good investment at the lower rates available outside of the high risk flood zones, according to FEMA.
The public can submit new flood data (appeals) or map corrections (protests) to their community floodplain officials for possible incorporation into the new digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps during a 90-day appeals process.
A series of educational and outreach activities will be held to ensure that residents and business owners understand the map change process. Public meetings will likely be held in June and July so residents can view the maps, understand how their properties might be affected, and learn more about financial steps that they may need to take.