How to find out if you have to pay flood insurance

To determine if your property is high risk, FEMA uses nationwide mapping of flood zones for every address. Anything in the 100-year flood plain is considered of high enough risk to require the federal insurance — only enforced through mortgages.

Calling something a 100-year flood plain does not mean it will be 100 years before the next flood. It means weather data estimates the chance of a flood at that site are 1 percent at any time.

Some climate change advisers believe those odds are much higher now.

Most of these maps, which show elevation, are considered outdated, experts stated at the NFIP congressional hearings.

Sarasota County maps were recently updated to 2016. Lee County maps are dated at 2008. Charlotte County maps are still from 2003, among the more outdated in the country.

A FEMA spokesperson told the Sun that new maps are in the wings for Charlotte County.

Charlotte County has become a contributor of elevation data to FEMA maps, providing building permit data back to the 1980s, the county’s Director of Community Development Claire Jubb told commissioners last year.

That data is not yet being used on FEMA maps. FEMA is starting to use local data nationwide to improve the accuracy of their maps. Jubb told commissioners she’s hoping the county’s upcoming maps will prove lower risk rating for some of the county’s many flood zone properties.

Undeveloped areas are often left un-mapped, said Jim Nolan, owner of Nolan Insurance of Punta Gorda. That includes many parts of eastern Charlotte County. Federal flood insurance rates in un-mapped areas tend to be very high, Nolan said.

Critics of the current federal insurance system want the public to be able to use the FEMA flood maps to find out the full history of each property, including its current insurance rate and its flood damage history.

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