In the Flood Zone: Changing Flood Maps Impact Homeowners in Multiple Ways

When it rains, it pours. At least, that’s how many Americans must feel in the wake of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s release of new flood maps this past July. With the newest maps come some changes in areas determined by FEMA to be at high risk for dangerous flooding and, because of this, homeowners with properties located within these high risk areas will be subject to costlier insurance rates.FEMA issues new flood maps for different parts of the country at varying times and usually there is dissent amongst affected residents.

Dave Mendelsohn, a FEMA natural hazard specialist based out of Boston, disclosed to a local paper that FEMA has “more precise topography of what the land elevations are than [it] did before.” New flood maps were drawn up in light of these to determine topographical findings and, as it turns out, a much larger amount of Massachusetts homes have fallen into the “high risk” category.

“There are very few [homes] that have gone from high to low risk,” said Edward Flavin, president of Massachusetts-based Flavin and Flavin real estate and insurance agency, “but there’s a lot going from low to a high-risk rating. Homes along the bay where there’s rising water and storms are getting fiercer, those people were not in a flood hazard [under older FEMA maps]. They were far enough away but they’re not far enough away now.”

And while area residents have to acclimate to living in higher risk environments, they also must come to terms with the fact that their homeowners insurance rates will be rising. As FEMA determines all flood maps and the government regulates rates for flood insurance, affected homeowners have no choice but to pay the higher rates.

Much of the U.S. is currently in a historic drought so planning for future floods may seem, to many Americans, less than topical at this time. But flood waters can rise in the proverbial blink of an eye and it’s not only practical but necessary to be prepared. For the U.S. government, that means mapping out flood plans and insurance rates. And, for citizens, it means being aware of risk … and insured for anything that may come.

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