It’s October in Louisiana, and you know what that means. Peak hurricane season is here. In addition to the hurricane threat, Louisiana is usually near the top of the list for states that receive the most rain, so vulnerability to flooding is not an uncommon theme among Louisianians.
Flooding hinders the Louisiana economy and regular routines of families and organizations, seemingly draining the wallets of homeowners and business owners faster than the rising waters can recede. Flood insurance is one-way property owners can weaken the financial blow that losses resulting from flooding can cause. Flood insurance premiums, however, have been on the rise in recent years.
The primary reason for insurance premium increases: two congressional fixes enacted in 2012 and 2014 that were intended to create stability and fiscal soundness to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Congress felt the need for action on the matter because not all flood insurance policyholders were paying the appropriate premiums for their coverage according to the actual risk associated with their properties flooding potential.
Through the NFIP, FEMA provides coverage for roughly 5 million policyholders nationwide, and with the program $25 billion in debt, Congress’ efforts sought to bring the issue into balance.
Details Of The Flood Map Update
It’s 2018 and today’s cutting edge technology has allowed the NFIP to more accurately define Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA). The last time Lafayette Parish flood maps were updated was 1996. For quite a few years now, our local officials have been working with FEMA, residents, and other community officials to accurately update our flood maps.
Updating flood maps is quite a lengthy and painfully detailed process, but through the rigorous diligence of many people, Lafayette Parish has a very accurate, new flood map that will soon take precedence of the current one on record.
Thus, industry lingo would have it that our Effective Flood map is dated 1996, and a Preliminary Flood Map has a release date that is upon the near future. As it would turn out, that date is December 21, 2018; Merry Christmas!
Once the Preliminary Flood Map becomes the new Effective Flood Map late this December, Lafayette Parish will see approximately 8100 structures moved out of an SFHA into a low-risk flood zone, like an “X” flood zone. Simultaneously, however, approximately 4500 structures will be moved from a low-risk flood zone into a SFHA such as an “A” or “AE” flood zone as a result.
Homeowners need to be aware of their homes position on the current effective map, and the new effective map come December 2018, to be sure they have adequate coverage for their home. Houses being moved into a SFHA will be required by their mortgage companies to maintain flood insurance in compliance with lending institution’s standards of protecting their interests when flooding risks are prevalent.
Important Note On Flood Zones
It is important to note that most of Louisiana, and especially Lafayette, is in a flood zone. It’s just a matter of the zone being at low or high risk of flooding. So if your property is in an X zone, for example, then you are still technically at risk of flooding. The risk is just quite lower by FEMA’s calculations.
As we saw in 2016, many homes that were thought to be safe from rising waters are vulnerable. If your home is in a low-risk flood zone, a flood insurance policy could be very affordable and worth the peace of mind it will provide.
Take Action To Make Sure You Are Ready
We encourage everyone with questions about the Effective and Preliminary Flood Maps, and/or flood insurance, to contact their trusted insurance agent. They will be able to identify the future of your unique flood scenario, and in turn, be able to accurately assess all the options available to your properties specific needs so that you can confidently make the best decision for yourself of adequately protecting one of your most significant investments in life.
If you’re a homeowner, please listen to the plea of taking a proactive stance in educating yourself about the upcoming map changes. There is a great deal of confusion and misinformation going around the general public, mainly in part to the fact that each property facing these changes are likely to have differing results; even such properties with neighboring borders.
Educating yourself to your property’s unique facts could save a considerable amount of money in the short term, and potential heartaches over the long run.
Resources That Help
If you’re one who likes to research for yourself, you can view the effective and preliminary flood maps using the following websites as resources:
Lafayette Consolidated Government Interactive FEMA Flood Map
RiskMap6’s FEMA Effective/Preliminary Flood Map Reports
If you would like to see how the maps used to look, older historical maps (otherwise known as Historical FIRM’s), can be found on the FEMA website. Search the Map Service Center for your address to see the documents on file.