Officials begin process to updating flood insurance maps
BERLIN—Town officials are taking preliminary steps to ensure that street names and landmarks are properly identified when a proposed update for Berlin’s flood insurance rate maps are released later this year through a new digital format.
A sneak peek of how the actual proposed map, delineating areas that show areas where there is at least a 1-percent-annual-chance of flooding, have been posted at Town Hall and in the Berlin Planning Office.
In prior years the maps were compiled from a paper mapping process, according to an October, 2013 statement from the Maryland Department of the Environment. The proposed maps are being converted into a digital flood insurance mapping system, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, MDE said.
Deputy Administrator Mary Bohlen cautioned during a Nov. 1 interview that residents should not confuse the preliminary floodplain map with the proposed map.
Advance access to the preliminary map will allow officials and residents to correct misidentified street names and landmarks, she said. Once the official proposal is received then any changes to the actual proposed floodplain delineations will be addressed, according to Bohlen.
The maps are important because they determine the likelihood for flood damage during storms within estimated degrees of severity and those estimates determine whether the property owners would be required to purchase flood insurance.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage and property owners who purchased their homes through a federally regulated or insured lender are required to purchase flood insurance if their homes are in designated high-risk flood areas, according to an information Web site produced by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Flood insurance is recommended, but optional, for homeowners not in high-risk areas, according to FEMA.
The proposed Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map updates have the potential to change the designation—in either direction—from a low-risk, moderate-risk or high-risk geographic area. The target effective date for the DFIRM that will update potential flood conditions in Worcester County is January, 2015, according to MDE.
MDE officials also noted that the National Flood Insurance Program has instituted a “Preferred Risk Policy” grandfather rule that might provide some flexibility to homeowners whose property is changed to a higher risk designation under the proposed DFIRM.
Under the grandfather rule, eligible property owners would be allowed to purchase Preferred Risk Policies that could lock in their rates when the policies are renewed, the MDE said. The policies would have to be purchased before the new DFIRM maps take effect, it added.