Fewer buildings fall under floodplain coverage

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A new flood insurance study has tentatively reduced the number of buildings in Columbia and Tyrrell County in the floodplain and thus subject to flood insurance coverage.  

Stacey Bobbitt, community development planner, and Dan Brubaker, engineer, both with the N.C. Emergency Management Division, told Tyrrell commissioners, Columbia aldermen and others on Aug. 30 that preliminary data show 419 fewer buildings in the county, but outside Columbia, in the 100-year floodplain, dropping from 2,185 to 1,766.

Inside Columbia, the number of buildings in the 100-year floodplain fell from 537 to 502.

Owners of mortgaged properties within a floodplain usually must carry flood insurance to protect lenders’ equity.

Throughout the county, including Columbia, there are 563 flood insurance policies in force, the report states. That number would likely drop to 439 using the new data.

The latest study includes the first coastal storm surge update in three decades. It shows, for the first time, that along its 96.3 miles of coast Tyrrell County has 5.5 square miles of properties within the 100-year floodplain that are also susceptible to potential damage from waves that are three feet or greater. The area identified is in Alligator Creek but not near any existing structures.

Bobbitt and Brubaker noted that Tyrrell County has 315.5 square miles of its 400 square-mile land surface (79 percent) within the 100-year floodplain. That’s a six-percent decrease from the current maps.

Areas of the county outside a floodplain are a huge woodland tract in the southwest corner near Lake Phelps (partially owned by Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge), the land inside the Gum Neck dike, parcels in Newlands, Levels, and Dillons Ridge sections, and an area adjoining the Washington County line near the UNC-TV tower site.

Once the maps are published, landowners will be notified and may appeal the findings. Also, the county planning board and commissioners must amend the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to conform with the new data. This whole process could take a year or more, and flood insurance rates will be adjusted at that time, Bobbitt said.