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Posted on: March 1, 2018

New FEMA Flood Maps to Take Effect Aug 16

Jason Buelterman on Facebook made the below announcement on February 28th:

We have been waiting to receive confirmation that the proposed new flood maps for Tybee have been approved. We just received this confirmation in the mail, and it is now official. Partly as a result of our community’s decades-long commitment to the growth and protection of our dunes along with over 40 years of periodic beach renourishment projects, the new maps take almost all of Tybee out of the ‘Velocity’ or ‘V’ zone. Additionally, in many areas, the ‘base flood elevation’ has changed favorably for Tybee properties. The maps take effect 6 months from the receipt of the letter below, which will be August 16, 2018.

What this could mean for property owners, especially those formerly in V zones and others whose bottom floor was at or near the old map’s base flood elevation, is lower flood insurance premiums.

I encourage you to contact your insurance company before August 16 to make sure that these changes to the Tybee flood maps are accounted for in your policy renewal.

This is a very positive development for our community. To see the new maps, go to City Hall’s Zoning Office. We were not able to get these large maps onto a readable PDF document.

For those whose homes are still below base flood elevation, we are doing all we can to acquire state and federal hazard mitigation grant funds to help lift as many homes as possible out of the flood zone. Our City Manager provides an update as to our progress with this effort at every City Council meeting.

There are two ways to view the new flood zone maps: 

  • One is from our local SAGIS providers at: http://sagis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=e7f0e8522e7b49b6a255fa4575191e41. Be sure to scroll down through the information in the left-hand column of this page to see the differentiation between the current map and the new map that will take effect in August. Your flood zone designation has likely changed.
  • The second source is directly on FEMA pages. The presentation of the data on this map differs slightly from the SAGIS version, and you should check both to give you the best understanding of your current designation. Visit https://msc.fema.gov/portal. The resulting map showing your address can also be downloaded or printed to give you a physical record of your designation. Finally, you can also zoom and scroll on this map to see any or all parts of Tybee Island and other areas.

The following information is from a coastal flood information fact sheet: 

Am I required to purchase flood insurance? 

If the purchase of your home was financed by a federally-backed mortgage loan, and your home is located in a high risk area where a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) shows that there is a 1% or greater annual chance of flooding, your lender must require you to obtain flood insurance for the life of the loan. If the annual risk of flooding is less than 1% in your area, your lender has the option to require that you purchase flood insurance, but there is no federal requirement that the lender do so. 

How do I find the level of flood risk for the area where my home is located? 

To inform homeowners, lenders, insurance agents, developers, state and local officials, and other interested parties about flood risks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced FIRMs under a series of federal mandates dating back to 1968. FIRMs use zone designations to identify areas where there is a high (1% or greater), moderate (0.2% to 1%), or minimal (less than 0.2%) annual chance of flooding. In coastal areas, the high risk areas are designated as either AE Zones or VE Zones. Moderate and minimal risk areas are designated as X Zones on newer FIRMs and as B and C Zones on older FIRMs. Base Flood Elevations, or BFEs, are shown in parentheses after or below the zone designation. For instance, ZONE AE (EL 12) on the FIRM indicates that the area is in the AE risk zone and the BFE is 12 feet above mean sea level.

Are NFIP premium amounts higher in VE Zones than in AE Zones? 

Yes. In VE Zones, the “V” stands for “velocity wave action”, indicating that flooding in these areas is caused by a combination of rising water and storm waves three feet high or higher. In the adjacent coastal AE zones, waves caused by a 1% annual chance storm will be less than three feet high. The greater risk of damage in VE Zones is reflected in the higher insurance rates that are charged for a similar amount of insurance coverage in AE Zones.

My VE Zone house is elevated high above the ground on pilings. Will I qualify for a lower flood insurance rate?

The answer depends on the relation of the BFE for the area where the house is located and the height of the lowest floor system of the house. Insurance rates are discounted by an incremental amount for every foot that the lowest floor system is elevated above the BFE, up to a maximum of three feet. On the other hand, there is a steep increase in the rates if the lowest floor system is located below BFE. Rates may also increase if some or all of the area beneath the lowest floor is enclosed in some way. Many communities require new and substantially improved structures built in AE and VE zones to be elevated an additional number of feet, above the minimum federal requirement of BFE shown on the effective FIRM (two feet is typical). This additional height requirement is called freeboard. Freeboard provides additional protection to a home and ensures that the homeowners will qualify for a substantial flood insurance premium discount. A house located in a VE Zone that is elevated two feet above BFE qualifies for a 46% premium discount on building coverage and a 62% premium discount on contents coverage*. For your home to be properly rated, you will need to hire a licensed surveyor to determine the floor heights and other relevant details and complete an Elevation Certificate form. The Elevation Certificate provides all of the information needed by an insurance agent to properly rate your home for the flood insurance coverage you request.

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