On November 5, 2013, FEMA issued revised flood maps that will impact many property owners in York and Cumberland counties. The revised maps are expected to shift flood lines farther inland and place many properties in flood zones that were not previously.
What does this mean for impacted property owners?
Once the map amendments take effect, owners of property situated in a FEMA flood zone generally must carry FEMA flood insurance and comply with federal and local floodplain management standards.
If you are required to purchase FEMA flood insurance, it may substantially increase your annual insurance costs and adversely affect your property’s marketability. The relationship between the base flood elevation shown on the revised FEMA maps and your structure’s ground floor elevation helps determine the amount of your flood insurance premium. Generally speaking, the higher the base flood elevation above the structure’s ground floor elevation, the higher the premium, although there are a number of factors that are used to calculate flood insurance premiums, including the year of building construction, number of floors, location, flood zone, deductible chosen and amount of coverage chosen.
Future improvements or development of your property must also meet federal and local floodplain regulations, which may limit or prevent you from developing or improving your property or rebuilding a structure on your property that has been damaged by flooding. Typically, building or expanding in a flood zone entails additional engineering, building, and other costs to meet applicable floodplain standards.
How do I find out whether my property will be impacted by the FEMA map changes?
To find out if your property has been placed in a flood zone, visit your town or city hall to view a copy of the revised flood maps, or view the maps online at FEMA’s website. FEMA is also required to publish notice of the revised maps in a local newspaper. If the revised maps place your property in a flood zone, we suggest contacting a FEMA-approved insurance agent (if you need a referral, FEMA provides that service at 1-888-435-6637) to discuss your flood insurance options and costs.
Is there any way to dispute the map changes?
Yes, if you believe your property has been improperly placed in a flood zone, you may appeal. FEMA has an initial 90-day appeal period during which property owners and municipalities can challenge the flood zone designations prior to the maps becoming final. The 90-day appeal period begins to run once the affected municipalities have been notified and notices of the revised maps have been published in a local newspaper. Many municipalities have hired their own engineers and are gearing up to appeal on behalf of their residents. To find out if your town or city is planning to appeal on your behalf, visit or call your municipal office. Individual property owners may also appeal, even if their municipality is also planning to appeal. Some property owners may find that making a separate, individual appeal makes sense and could increase the chances of their property being removed from the flood zone. If your city or town is not planning to appeal the maps on a community-wide basis, your only option is to make an individual appeal.
Perkins Thompson advises property owners on FEMA floodplain regulations and map amendments. If you would like to learn how the FEMA map changes may impact a specific property or appeal your property’s flood zone designation, please contact one of the attorneys below.