Preparedness

Rising River, Extra Expenses: New FEMA Maps Draw Flood Insurance Areas in Muscatine County, Iowa

New floodplain maps were generated by FEMA. The information is available through the FEMA and Iowa Department of Natural Resources websites.

by Meredith Ecklund, Muscatine Journal, Iowa / October 31, 2018

(TNS) — Muscatine County residents currently living in floodplain areas or near one should contact Planning and Zoning to see if required flood insurance is in their future, according to Administrator Eric Furnas.

“It’s best for the homeowners, if they’re concerned, to look it up and find out,” Furnas said.

New floodplain maps were generated by FEMA. The information is available through websites including FEMA and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, but Furnas said the maps may be difficult to read if people are unfamiliar with the Geographic Information System.

The Flood Insurance Study maps determine which properties are in the floodplain and also which property owners will have to purchase flood insurance as a result. He explained that the new floodplain maps have some properties either entering the floodplain or exiting it and to generate a list of affected homeowners would take “thousands of hours.” The best way for residents to find out if they’re affected is to contact county planning and zoning.

Furnas said representatives from FEMA, Iowa DNR and Muscatine County Planning and Zoning held an open house last week to give details on the new flood maps and answer any questions residents had.

He said only a few people showed up to the meeting, which isn’t unusual, but the 90-day appeal period follows the meeting “where people that feel that they’re adversely impacted by the flood map changes can gather and submit technical data … " he said. Residents or property owners may hire a surveyor to prove to the federal agency that their properties are at a high enough elevation or in an area protected by a levee that they won’t require insurance.

Supervisor Jeff Sorensen said he pays $1,000 per year for flood insurance with a $50,000 deductible on a property valued at $160,000 in southern Muscatine “so, it’s very expensive and not that much insurance; things most people need to be watching for because, as most people know, it’s not one of our higher income areas in the county.”

Furnas said one issue the department is looking into is the inclusion of eight properties that had previously been granted letter of map amendments or LOMAs. These letters prove that the properties had been identified as adequately elevated and recognized as out of the floodplain. However, the properties were included in the recent study when they were determined to be exempt because most of them are now protected by the levee that has been certified since the last study several years ago.

“I’m particularly concerned with these LOMAs that people have already attained now are just being wiped away,” Furnas said. “You know, people spent money to prove that their house or property was high enough and they’re being superseded and they shouldn't have even been part of this study.”

Furnas said he's working with Iowa DNR to correct the issue.

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©2018 Muscatine Journal, Iowa

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