FEMA representatives visited Orange and Jefferson counties last week to discuss preliminary flood maps for the areas. Changes in risk levels designated by the new maps could raise or lower flood insurance rates for homeowners and business owners.
Pockets of change could be observed throughout the counties but, according to FEMA representatives, one city in particular experienced massive changes in the flood map classifications of property there. Almost all of Bridge City flooded during Hurricane Ike in 2008, so it should be no surprise to residents that much of the city would be considered at a higher risk level in the new study than previous flood maps indicated. Much of the property in Bridge City has gone from risk level X, at low-risk for flooding, to risk level AE, which is a high-risk designation.
FEMA representative Diana Herrera said going from a low-risk zone to high-risk zone would cause insurance rates to increase, but had some suggestions for property owners looking to save some money. She said if you are currently considered in a low, or preferred, risk zone, you could purchase insurance at the lower rate applicable to low-risk property, and the rate would extend throughout the duration of your insurance agreement pending government-mandated changes.
“If you are going from low risk to high risk, grandfather rules allow you to keep your lower insurance rate (if in place),” Herrera explained. “You get a better rate for preferred risk areas. The current rule is to extend the preferred risk policy, at least until Congress says we can’t.”
The new maps were generated as a result of a comprehensive storm surge study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The project is a shared effort among the Corps, FEMA and its mapping partners. The Corps used 450 synthetic tropical storm simulations to accrue to data used in creating the new flood maps.
FEMA Region 6 acting regional administrator Tony Robinson encouraged citizens to review the flood maps for their property.
“As we work together with our state and local partners to bring this critical information to the county, we ask that everyone review the maps to understand what flood risks are involved,” Robinson said. “The role of the community as an active partner in the flood mapping process is very important.”