PORT CHARLOTTE — Things are about to change with flood insurance, and that affects 60% of land in Charlotte County.
Community Development Director Claire Jubb gave a rundown of what is known, and what is not known at this point, to the County Commission this week.
“They are trying to build a picture for an individual flood risk for an individual house,” Jubb told the commission, which is similar to what the private sector insurance industry does.
What is known about the Federal Emergency Management plans to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program?
It will be more complicated than the current system.
You will still be required to buy insurance if you have a mortgage and FEMA says your property is at high risk.
Rates will be determined house by house, or building by building. Those rates will be easier to find out for a particular building.
Homeowners will not have to provide certificates of elevation.
Rates will not be determined using current flood risk maps, as they are now.
FEMA will be using more information on flood history.
Flood history did not predict devastation in an area such as Mexico City, Florida, that was destroyed by Hurricane Michael last fall, according to a Miami Herald article.
FEMA will start including the history and likelihood of urban flooding — which is flooding caused by development paving over land that once absorbed water.
FEMA says it will start training insurance agents early in 2020.
FEMA says it will tell property owners their new rates in April.
FEMA says it will start charging the new rates in October 2020, for the whole country.
If you face an increase, you will still be protected by having the new rate phased in over time. That’s because a previous law prevents FEMA from raising rates all at once.
What is NOT known?
What are the new rates?
How will FEMA calculate the new rates?
What commissioners had to say about it
Christopher Constance: “Obviously, it’s correct...but at the end of the day, nobody’s rates are going to go down...I see this as another way that the private sector is cherry picking.”
Stephen R. Deutsch: “It’s a legalized protection contract.”
Deutsch said he lives in the highest flood risk category — and the highest cost — even though neither he nor his neighbor have been flooded going back 50 years.
“I often get frustrated with the flood insurance program.”
Joe Tiseo: “It doesn’t encourage people to develop their property. It discourages it.”
Ken Doherty: “This is a great goal, but I don’t see how the implementation can be done.”
Since the 1970s, FEMA has used flood risk maps, which anyone can look up for a particular address. According to Jubb, those maps, which are updated from time to time, are based on data on dry land elevation above the mean high water mark, underwater altitudes which affect the power of wave action, tidal measures of water height, and the history of big storms and where they went. It doesn’t include a lot of history on actual flooding.
Currently, property owners or developers may pay to have their elevation measured if they built after bringing in many feet of fill. They can submit this data to FEMA, which can then exempt them from the insurance requirement.