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Open house to be held for flood hazard map changes

Friday, March 30, 2012 - 3:27pm

TYLER-  A multi-year FEMA project to re-examine City of Tyler flood zones and to develop detailed, digital flood hazard maps has been completed. Just released for public review, the new maps -- also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) -- reflect current flood risks.  This project replaces maps that are up to 20 years old.  As a result, property owners throughout the City of Tyler will have up-to-date, reliable, Internet-accessible information about flood risk, on a property-by-property basis.


Flooding can be the most frequent and costly disaster in many Texas cities, including Tyler. The risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use, weather events and other factors. The likelihood of inland, riverine and coastal flooding has changed along with these factors. The risk for flooding can vary within the same neighborhood - and even from property to property; however it exists throughout the area. Knowing your flood risk is the first step to flood protection.


Invitations have been sent to all affected property owners; both those whose property will now be in a higher risk zone, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), as well as those whose property is being removed from the high risk zone.  There are 159 parcels and 88 structures that have been added to the high risk area and 200 parcels and 179 structures that have been removed.


“This information is important to residents, not only because of the risk to their property, but also because if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender and the building(s) on their parcel are within the SFHA, then by federal law the lender must require flood insurance when these flood maps become effective,” said Development Services Director Michael Wilson.  “Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally underwritten program provided by nearly 100 insurance companies and written through licensed insurance agents.  Contact an insurance agent to learn about lower-cost “grandfathering” options offered by the NFIP for properties being mapped into higher-risk areas for the first time.”


If residents do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that they purchase flood insurance if their property is in a high risk zone. 


Over the life of a 30-year loan, there is about a three times greater chance of having a flood in the home than having a fire.  Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding. For more information on flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program’s website, www.floodsmart.gov.
“The new maps help promote public safety,” added Wilson. “These flood hazard maps are important tools used in the effort to protect lives and properties in Tyler. By showing the extent to which areas of the City of Tyler and individual properties are at risk for flooding, the flood maps help business owners and residents make more informed decisions about personal safety and financially protecting their property.”


The maps that were just released are still deemed preliminary. Starting soon, there will be a 90-day Public Comment Period. This is a time when citizens will have the opportunity to submit technical and/or scientific data to file a protest regarding their individual property, or an appeal regarding the accuracy of the mapping process in general.

To learn more about protests and appeals, visit http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=3251.


Once the appeals and protests are reviewed and any needed map changes are incorporated, FEMA will issue a Letter of Final Determination.  Six months later, an ordinance approving the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map will be adopted. The maps will then become effective, as will any new flood insurance requirements.  However, starting immediately, these flood hazard maps will be used in helping to determine requirements for construction and development.


FEMA and City staff will be available at the open house to assist residents one-on-one and provide information.  Additionally, City staff will assist residents at the Tyler Development Center located at 423 West Ferguson Street in Tyler throughout the Public Comment Period.


For more information about a particular parcel, visit http://maps.riskmap6.com/TX/Smith/  courtesy of FEMA or http://www.smithcountymapsite.org/FloodMaps/.


For general information about the flood map modernization project, you also can contact the Development Services Department at (903) 531-1171, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


This flood map modernization project is a joint effort between the City of Tyler, Smith County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in cooperation with association and private sector partners.

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