POMEROY — FEMA’s new flood insurance program and premium rate increases on properties in flood hazard areas were discussed at length by Ed Werry of the Meigs County Housing and Tax Map Office at last week’s meeting with Meigs County Chamber of Commerce members.
Werry displayed updated maps which show flood levels in various areas along the Ohio River and talked about the impact on insurance premium rates relating to properties situated in a flood zone.
Under the new program, he said the insurance rates will reflect the full flood risk of an insured building and that some insurance subsidies and discounts received now will be phased out and eventually eliminated. An emphasis in the discussion centered on the increase in flood insurance rates and the overall effect it will have on the value of properties located in the flood zone.
Werry said that while property owners are not required to buy flood insurance, potential buyers who want to take out a loan are. According to the new flood insurance program, he said banks cannot loan money on property which does not meet the requirements of being above the flood risk level unless they have flood insurance as required under the FEMA flood insurance program. That brought a response from several attending the meeting that the new regulations will “kill business along the river.”
Recently constructed businesses, like Farmers Bank and Fox’s Pizza on the River, are above the flood risk level. Werry said that the maps he was displaying do not show areas subject to flash floods, although he did mention that “all streams like Leading Creek fall under the new regulations.”
In response to a question, Werry advised that, “the new regulations apply equally to personal and public structures.” He also mentioned that later this year when ownership on a structure changes the requirements of the FEMA insurance program go into effect.
According to information distributed by Werry, premium rates for subsidized non-primary residences began to increase at a 25 percent per year rate and will do that until they reflect the full risk-rate. Later this year, FEMA will begin to apply full risk rates to policies written for newly purchased property, and beginning in 2014, premium rates for other properties will increase as new or revised flood insurance rate maps become effective, and then the full risk rates will be phased in.
The only way to save money on flood insurance, according to that information, is to raise buildings above the minimum required elevation standards or to flood-proof non-residential buildings. Rebuilding higher provides immediate flood insurance benefits, it was noted.
There are three programs that may help reduce risk and save money on flood insurance, according to the informational sheets distributed by Werry. They are to apply for a FEMA hazard mitigation grant, to get insurance premium discounts by implementing flood plain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements to reduce flood risk, or to seek help through the NFIP which, in some instances, can help pay the cost of flood proofing, elevation, relocation or demolition.
The maps are available for public viewing at the Housing and Tax Map Office on Mulberry Avenue in Pomeroy.