LOCAL NEWS

Leander appealing new FEMA map

Cedar Park offers to assist residents with appeals on the new map, which affects homeowners insurance rates.

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With the May 14 deadline to submit appeals to the newly released flood insurance rate map (FIRM) approaching, the City of Leander is making an appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency on behalf of some of its residents.

In March, the City of Leander sent letters to 34 property owners who had portions of their lots in the floodplain on the new map, offering to appeal on their behalf  because when FEMA began its map revision study in 2012, topographical information used for those lots was different.

“Many of these homes were built on lots elevated by fill after the 2012 date for the model,” the letter said. “The city’s revised model shows your home to be outside the floodplain.”

While Leander is making an appeal, Cedar Park has no areas it plans to appeal according to spokesperson Jennie Huerta. However, Huerta said the city will assist any resident who wants to file an appeal. To date, no resident has contacted the city about filing an appeal.

Residents and community officials have until May 14 to file appeals or comments opposing the FIRM.

Updated maps will be released in late 2018 and it is expected to be finalized in spring 2019. Each community then has six months to either amend its floodplain management regulations or show their current plans are compliant with the newly finalized FIRM.

Appeals require technical or scientific information to dispute FEMA’s map data and must be submitted through the county’s floodplain administrator. Incorrect information that doesn’t change the flood hazard information, including misspellings or boundary line inaccuracies, may submitted as comments.

Williamson County floodplain administrator David Zwernemann said all property owners need to confirm their land didn’t change designations. He said the changes are scattered up and down the watershed so even if a property wasn’t in the floodplain previously it might be now, so all property owners need to confirm if their land is affected.

“Some areas of the floodplain got larger, some got smaller and some extended upstream,” Zwernemann explained, noting that FEMA cannot raise flood insurance rates more than 15-18 percent per year, so getting flood insurance before the map is finalized will keep policy rates as low as possible and from rising quickly.

“If they see they’re in the floodplain when they weren’t before and have a mortgage, they will be required to have flood insurance,” Zwernemann said. “It’s best to do it before (the map) is effective.”

While FEMA has an interactive map on its web site, Williamson County has produced an interactive map that is user friendly. It can be found at  gis.wilco.org/maps/?viewer=study.

The official Williamson County floodplain map is available for residents to review in person at 3151 S.E. Inner Loop, Suite B, in Georgetown. For more information, contact Zwernemann at 512-943-3330.

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