The City started the Watershed Study Program in 2010 after Tropical Storm Hermine caused widespread flooding across the City. The City found that some of the data used in the current FEMA floodplain maps had not been updated since the 1970s. Land development since the 1970s has significantly changed the amount of water within its creeks and the way that the water flows within its watershed. The primary goal of the City’s Watershed Study Program is to update all engineering data for a watershed to develop accurate flood risk data that represents the current characteristics of the watershed. This new engineering information is used to identify flood risks, provide better project planning for the City’s Stormwater Capital Improvement Program, identify and classify erosion risks, and update the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM).

The FIRM updates are used to inform the public about the potential flood risks for an area. This information is used by many people including potential home buyers who want to see if a house or property is in a known floodplain. Lenders also use the FIRM to determine which properties need flood insurance policies while insurance agents use the FIRM to determine what flood insurance rates should be.

Changes to the floodplain maps will include:

  • Addition or modification of Base Flood Elevations
  • Special Flood Hazard Area boundary changes
  • Changes to flood zone designations
  • Revisions to the floodway boundaries

Once the FIRM map panels become effective, buildings that are newly mapped into the Special Flood Hazard Area or High-Risk Area, will have 12 months from the effective date to still receive the Preferred Risk Policy premium rates. After the first year, rates will then increase up to 18 percent a year.

As part of the map revision process you may appeal the preliminary FIRM and FIS data with any technical engineering data that may represent the area better. There is a 90 - day period in which you can appeal the map revisions. For more information please visit www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/fhm/bfe or call FEMA Map Information at 1-877-336-2627.

Don't wait to purchase flood insurance!  There is a 30-day waiting period for flood policies to take effect. Contact your local insurance agent for more information on rates and policies.