The regulatory appeals period has begun for a FEMA map that determines which properties in New Castle County need flood insurance.
FEMA’s preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map for New Castle County marks gradations of high-risk areas, or floodplains, and moderate-risk areas.
Katie Lipiecki works on risk analysis for FEMA’s regional office. She says maps like this are one factor that may influence flood insurance policy rates. “Any structure that is located in or touching a floodplain, one of those high-risk areas, and they have a federally backed mortgage, that’s when there’s a mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement attached to that,” she said.
She says on the maps, shaded areas indicate some level of flood risk. “A blue blob, or the floodway might be the blue and red cross-hatched area. That would be your high risk area and those letters would be A or AE,” she said. “An orange color on the map, that would be a moderate-risk area. It is outside of the insurance requirement, but still an area of risk.”
Lipiecki says FEMA updates the maps based on the latest elevation data and new development.
“This particular county is seeing some development pressures, and we also had some knowledge of some map issues.”
She says with this update, some areas of the floodplain expanded and some shrank.
“There is a common misconception that people who are outside of a floodplain either can’t get a flood insurance policy or don’t need a flood insurance policy,” said Lipiecki. “If you can see water, hear water, are near water, you might need a flood insurance policy ... Water goes beyond the line. ”
She adds homeowners can use the maps to plan mitigation actions outside of buying flood insurance — like elevating structures or installing flood vents.
Lipiecki says that Sea Level Rise projections are not taken into account to produce the maps.
The preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map can be found on DNREC’s website. Residents who think it contains an error can contact their community floodplain administrator to formulate an appeal to FEMA. Lipiecki says the appeal must be supported by data.
The regulatory appeals period ends in March.