LONG BEACH — A new set of revised FEMA Flood Maps for the region went into effect on May 18.
The National Flood Insurance Program uses these maps to determine which “flood zone” a particular property is in. That, in turn, can affect whether an owner is required to have flood insurance and what it will cost them.
Long Beach City Planner Gayle Borchard says that the new maps affect each coastal community differently. In Long Beach, the news is good for many property owners: Changes to the Long Beach maps could result in a reduction in flood insurance rates. The Chinook Observer will explore impacts in other areas of the county in forthcoming coverage.
Now that the maps are official, Borchard says property owners who haven’t already figured out how the maps affect their land should act quickly, and notify their insurance companies of any changes as soon as possible.
“People should make sure they’re not overpaying, but that they’re covered to the level they want,” Borchard said on June 1.
This is the first time the Federal Emergency Management Agency has revised local flood maps since 1979. During that time, the landscape and environment have changed, and our understanding of flooding has evolved. Borchard explained; It was time to create a new sent of maps that reflect advances in modeling technology.
Implementation of the new maps was messy in some communities. In Warrenton, FEMA’s computer models didn’t reflect work the city has done to modify the coastline, so many parts of the city appeared to be underwater on the proposed maps. The problem was eventually corrected, but not before it had caused considerable dismay.
In other communities, some properties were re-classified to higher-risk flood zones, leading to sharp increases in insurance premiums on previously affordable homes, Borchard said.
But Long Beach got lucky. Most properties here stayed the same or were moved to a lower-risk category.
“It’s good news for policy holders,” Borchard explained.
Previously, many areas of Long Beach were designated as “A-Zones,” meaning that they had moderate risk of flooding. Lenders usually require owners to carry flood insurance in A-Zones.
“Those all went away,” Borchard said.
A few limited properties remain in flood zones. The pond in Culbertson Park, for example, is still designated as an “A-Zone.” In general, the city’s very high-risk “V-Zone” shrank on the new maps, except for a small section at the south end of town, where it widened a bit. One commercial building, two homes, the boardwalk are also in the V-Zone. One man is currently building a new house in the V-Zone, but he’s going to great lengths to build the home to the highest flood and seismic standards, Borchard said.
Long Beach residents can view maps for their properties on the City of Long Beach website. Those who live elsewhere will need to check with their own city or county government, or use the flood map search tool on FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center website. This website also has contact information, and answers to common questions: