Commissioners make attempt to speed up the flood map approval

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2018

County commissioners have taken action to speed up the approval and adoption of new flood maps that could drastically affect how much people pay for flood insurance.

At the August meeting of the county Board of Commissioners, commissioners voted to send a letter to U.S. senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, as well as every congressional representative in the state, asking them to look into the FEMA delay. Commissioners also voted to enlist Joe McClees, the county’s lobbyist, to look into the same on the state level.

“Well, we’re back to where we were a year or so ago: the FEMA flood maps still have not come out. We’ve got people in the county that are paying three and four thousand dollars for flood insurance, when the FEMA — the new FEMA — flood maps come out for approval by the board of county commissioners, most of those people are gonna get some significant reductions in what they’re paying for flood insurance. This is money that will circulate in Beaufort County when that happens,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson.

County Manager Brian Alligood said commissioners could throw money at the issue, but it likely would not speed up the process, as he’d already been told by those working on the maps at the state level that a letter of final determination would be submitted to FEMA this month. If FEMA approves the maps, then a mandatory 6-month wait begins, while the local government aligns its flood ordinances with the new maps.

Richardson said the delay is costing as much as $5 million in total reductions to property owners who are required to have flood insurance. Previously, he explained that the difference comes from the fact that an early 20th-century storm that defined the 100-year-flood plain is now longer factored into the calculations — it’s too old — so many properties will no longer be considered in the flood plain. The process of creating new maps started in 2013, and the maps have been accessible on the North Caroline Department of Public Safety’s website for two years, Richardson said, which he said is evidence of “foot-dragging” on both federal and state levels.

According to Alligood, the maps’ creation, approval and adoption process is exactly where FEMA and DPS said it would be.

“My understanding is that we are on schedule with what the original schedule was,” Alligood said.