New FEMA flood maps causing problems for some residentsChanges to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s floodplain maps have caused quite a few headaches for Farmington residents over the past month.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Changes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s floodplain maps have caused quite a few headaches for Farmington residents over the past month.
Mortgage companies are notifying some residents that they need to purchase flood insurance for their homes, thanks to changes FEMA made to the community’s floodplain maps in late December. Fortunately, Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman said, it’s a problem that can be fixed without a costly solution.
Back in the mid-1970s, FEMA developed a flood insurance policy for communities called the National Flood Insurance Program. In doing so, FEMA surveyed Farmington and identified areas that would flood in the event of a 100-year storm. FEMA took aerial pictures of the community and used those pictures to help illustrate the areas of concern.
At the time, Schorzman said, most of the areas in question today were undeveloped. Over the years, though, a number of housing projects have sprung up, accounting for hundreds of new homes in the area FEMA identified as floodplain.
Because those areas were in FEMA’s floodplain maps, most developers took steps to adjust the housing sites before the homes were built. In most cases, they changed the elevation of the property so the homes would be less likely to flood. When those homes were built, FEMA issued a letter of map change for each property, which was supposed to satisfy the NFIP insurance concerns.
A couple of years ago, FEMA decided to update its floodplain maps in Dakota County. In November, 2010, the city of Farmington sent packets of information about the process to homeowners whose properties had been in the floodplains but were since removed. In those packets was a copy of a Letter of Map Revisions for their properties.
The floodplain mapping updates became effective for Farmington on Dec. 2, 2011. A couple of days later, the phone calls started to come in.
Essentially, Schorzman said, FEMA overlaid the new city map onto the previous aerial pictures of the community from the 1970s, so to an untrained eye, it would appear hundreds of homes are still located in the city’s floodplain.
Approximately 17 developments in Farmington are affected by the change, Schorzman said. That means potentially hundreds of residents are receiving letters from their mortgage companies requesting that they purchase flood insurance.
“We started getting calls a week or so after the new maps became effective,” Schorzman said. “We’re still probably getting three to four calls a day from people saying they need to buy flood insurance.”
For a lot of residents, the request from their mortgage companies comes as a surprise. Last week, Schorzman spoke to a resident who was told they would have to spend as much as $2,700 to satisfy their mortgage company’s request.
However, the solution is much, much cheaper.
Because the city knew there would likely be some fallout from the change, a link with more information has been set up on the city’s website, www.ci.farmington.mn.us. By going to the city’s website, residents can follow a link to a Letter of Map Revision, which should satisfy most mortgage companies.
Some residents may have the updated LOMR from the November, 2010 packet, Schorzman added. If they do not, Schorzman will help any residents find the documentation they need.
“I really encourage people, if they have questions, to give me a call. I will try to work with them. For them most part, we have been successful. In some cases, I’ve told people to have their mortgage company call me and I will explain it to them, too,” he said.
Schorzman can be reached at 651-280-6841.