FEMA floodplain map to change

Published 11:08 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

By Larry Holt

The Orange Leader


Harry Vine, Code Enforcement Officer for the city of Pinehurst advocated voluntary adoption of the most recent preliminary FEMA flood plain map at the Tuesday city council meeting.

FEMA’s new flood elevation map would open access by homeowners to federal funds specific to raising their homes above the basic flood elevation from eight feet to nine feet if the home is in a flood zone. Elevating the home has potential insurance premium reductions attached to the improvement.  Homes not previously in a flood hazard zone may find the location in a designated flood hazard zone in the preliminary map.

City Administrator Robbie Hood requested the council not make a decision on the adoption of the preliminary floodplain map until he has had an opportunity for FEMA to address concerns he has on the overall impact to citizens of the city.

“This new mapping may help one group of people but we need to make sure it also doesn’t harm others,” Hood said. “At this point, the impact is not yet clear and I would like us to be clear on this before moving forward.”

Pinehurst City Council tabled further discussion until Hood could get clarification and the floodplain map can be studied.   The preliminary floodplain map was introduced by FEMA to this area approximately two-years prior to Hurricane Harvey. Progress toward area wide adoption was halted pending the outcome of the city of Bridge City’s challenge to the redrawn map.

FEMA is the responsible agency for mapping and designating flood areas affecting homes ranging from A4 special flood hazard zone, to B, and C zones.   A4 is an area where floods are likely to occur on a frequent basis, B is an area that may see flooding within a 500-year flood cycle, and C are zones not likely to be affected by floods. A full description can be found by visiting the FEMA.gov website.

Vine said the City of Pinehurst has all three zones within its boundaries.

The preliminary FEMA floodplain map shows a “slight expansion,” Vine said affecting Pinehurst residents, but “nothing dramatic.”

Adopting a revised floodplain map is part of a larger initiative to insure responsibility for flood loss reduction by implementing needed floodplain management measures.

As the FEMA website states, “The fundamental floodplain management program that most others are built on is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).”

Vine proposes the city adopt the Community Rating System (CRS) that encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards.

FEMA says, “Depending upon the level of participation, flood insurance premium rates for policyholders can be reduced up to 45%” when compared to insurance premium rates prior to elevating the structure. FEMA.gov goes further stating, “Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and public infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, reduce human suffering, and protect the environment.”

Contact City of Pinehurst at 409-886-3873 for more information, or visit FEMA.gov and search for FEMA Flood Map Service Center.

A full discussion on the issue of the new FEMA floodplain map and the city become part of the Community Rating System will be a city council agenda item at an upcoming, yet to be determined, date.