Changes are coming to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Stafford County. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proposing updates to the maps, which could remove some places from flood maps and add some new places. Homes and businesses in high-risk flood areas with mortgages from government-backed lenders are required to have flood insurance over and above regular property insurance.
To check and see if your property has been newly mapped in or out of the flood zone, view the preliminary maps online at the FEMA Flood Map Changes: http://msc.fema.gov/fmcv. Residents are invited to participate in a 90-day appeal and comment period beginning on September 30, 2020.
Residents may submit an appeal if they perceive that modeling or data used to create the map is technically or scientifically incorrect. Appeals and comments can be submitted to Stafford County’s floodplain administrator: John Saunders, P.E., CFM, Environmental Programs Administrator at JSaunders@staffordcountyva.gov.
- If property owners see incorrect information that does not change the flood hazard information- such as a missing or misspelled road name in the Special Flood Hazard Area or an incorrect corporate boundary – they can submit a written comment
- An appeal must include technical information, such as hydraulic or hydrologic data, to support the claim
- Appeals cannot be based on the effects of proposed projects or projects started after the study is in progress
Even if you are not in the newly mapped floodplain, or you have now been mapped out of the floodplain, you still could benefit from flood insurance. According to FEMA, there have been 67 flood events over the last 25 years in Stafford County. Flooding does not stop at a line, and most homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood-related losses. In Stafford County, approximately 43% of flood claims come from outside the special flood hazard area. Most recently, in June 2018, several days of rain throughout Northern Virginia caused river and stream flooding, closing many major roads in the southwestern portion of the county and causing flood damage to homes and businesses, which generally do not flood. Just one inch of water in a home can cause up to $25,000 in damages according to FEMA, so often having flood insurance can mean the difference between recovering and being financially devastated.
While flood insurance is not mandatory if you are in a moderate-to-low-risk area, you will qualify for a much lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy. There are also cost-saving options available for those newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone. Learn more about your flood insurance options by talking with your insurance agent and visiting https://www.floodsmart.gov. If you have any questions, please contact FEMA Region 3 Office of External Affairs at (215) 931-5597 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.