Meeting will focus on changes to flood maps

Published 4:37 pm Monday, December 5, 2016

Beaufort County residents and business owners will be able to review and discuss the latest flood-hazard information and flood-risk data at a meeting Dec. 15 at Washington’s City Hall.

The meeting is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Available in digital form, preliminary flood-hazard information can be layered on top of the county’s parcel data so property owners can better determine potential risks to their land. Residents can see the maps at the meeting.

Digital flood hazard data also can be viewed by calling Beaufort County Building Inspections Department at 252-946-7182 or the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program at 919-825-2339.

Several area officials reviewed preliminary modifications to flood maps Sept. 8.

In Washington, the proposed flood maps show less property in Washington, especially along waterways, being a part of the 100-year flood plain, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources.

Currently, new houses built in the 100-year floodplain are required to have their first floor (habitable) at the base flood elevation (either nine or 10 feet in Washington), according to Allen Pittman, the city’s senior building code official. If that required elevation is less after the new flood maps are approved, that likely would lower costs of building houses in the 100-year floodplain, according to Rodman.

Countywide, the proposed flood maps, if approved and adopted, could affect property owners’ flood insurance coverage, especially premiums. In some cases, flood-insurance premiums could decrease.

At the Dec. 15 meeting, county and municipal employees will be on hand to help residents locate particular properties from the flood hazard layer and determine their level of flood risk.  NCFMP representatives will make a short presentation on the flood study process, how the new digital hazard data can be used to reduce future flood losses and how the preliminary hazard data may influence flood insurance and floodplain management. Following the presentation, representatives will be available to answer questions about the hazard-data update process, flood insurance coverage and floodplain management. Attendees also may see a demonstration of the North Carolina Flood Risk Information System.

Only those portions of the revised streams have been updated. Therefore, some communities in the county will not have new flood-hazard data, although adjacent counties may have some updates due to the seamless statewide format for the mapping program.

Residents may access the flood-hazard data online at

When new maps are issued, a property owner’s flood risk may have changed, as well along with flood insurance requirements. If a property is mapped out of a high-risk area, the owner’s flood insurance costs will likely decrease, according to FEMA. If a property is mapped into a high-risk area, the owners will be required to purchase flood insurance if the mortgage is through a federally regulated or insured lender. Property owners can save money with the newly mapped procedure and through a process known as grandfathering provided by the National Flood Insurance Program. Under newly mapped procedure, a property owner, for the first year following a map change, can obtain a flood insurance policy at a rate equal to the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy rate, though a higher reserve fund assessment and federal policy fee will apply. After the first year, the rate begins transitioning to a full-risk rate, with annual rate increases of no more than 18 percent.

Property owners who do not have flood insurance and find their buildings will be mapped into a special flood hazard area. FEMA encourages them to purchase a PRP policy before the new maps become effective. Such property owners will be covered for their actual flood risk and able to renew their policies at the lower-cost PRP rate for another year during the first 12 months after the new map becomes effective.

People with property near a levee may find their flood risk might be higher than they thought. Hundreds of levees across the country no longer meet federal standards for protection, so when new maps are issued, these areas will be shown as high risk.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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