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July 7, 2013

Floodplain change could save Jeffersonville residents thousands

JEFFERSONVILLE — A change in the floodmap for Jeffersonville could save more than 400 Jeffersonville homeowners thousand of dollars each year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating the city’s floodmaps, but before the changes go into effect the city of Jeffersonville was able to offer some suggestions that may move a few hundred homeowners out of the 100-year floodplain.

Jeffersonville City Engineer Andy Crouch said that FEMA is in the process of updating the floodplain maps for the area, after which the maps are handed over to the city for review. And once the updated FEMA maps were submitted to the city, Crouch said there were a number of adjustments that could be made.

“We looked at it and said, ‘we think there’s areas that you’re showing as floodplain that don’t actually flood,’” he said.

To offer some support to the city’s argument Jeffersonville used Indiana’s topographic mapping that was recently completed.

“They’ve provided a new floodplain elevation ... based on the new maps,” Crouch said. “It is extremely accurate information and ... it’s like going from an old TV to a high-def TV. You get better information, you get more information, you get more accurate information.”

WHAT THE CHANGE MEANS

The change for homeowners, whether they are located inside or outside of the floodplain, could mean thousands of dollars to the homeowners.

“I absolutely hate flood insurance...the cost to the homeowner is ridiculous,” said Jeffersonville-based Allstate Insurance Agent Brian Wright.

He said flood insurance can cost a homeowner as little as $250 to $300 a year, or if a homeowner is located in the floodplain the cost can shoot up to $2,300 to $2,400 on the high end.

Crouch explained that homes in a floodplain — wherever water stands during a 100-year storm — are required to carry flood insurance and buildings are not allowed to be built in a floodway — where water is physically moving during a 100-year storm.

“If it puts you into the floodplain and you have a mortgage on your home or on that piece of property ... most likely your bank is going to be re-reviewing your mortgage and saying you need to start paying flood insurance,” Crouch said. “What we feel like we’ve done is pulled 400 and something homes out of the requirement to pay $1,000 to $3,000 a year.”

Even if those homeowners want to continue to carry a flood insurance policy that have been removed from the floodplain, the cost will be substantially less.

Wright said a preferred flood insurance policy on a $75,000 to $80,000 home is in the $250 to $300 range, compared to the more than $2,000 it costs when the insurance is required.

While the bulk of the changes will remove homeowners from the floodplain, and the requirement to carry flood insurance, about 70 properties have been moved into the floodplain.

“We have put some [homes] back in the floodplain,” Crouch said. “And if you’re in the floodplain I would think you would want floodplain insurance.”

However, the changes suggested by the city are not guaranteed to go into effect.

“They can take the information and use it or not,” Crouch said of FEMA. “Our hope, and our guess, is that they will take our information and say your data is better than our data and adjust their maps accordingly. The only thing we’ve done is provided more information to FEMA that we feel is more accurate than what they had.”

A response, and a change in the flood maps that would change the flood insurance requirements for homeowners, are not expected to be returned by FEMA until the spring 2014.

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