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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hernando County's New Flood Hazard Maps

1. Why did Hernando County get new flood hazard maps?

Flood hazard maps, also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), are important tools in the effort to protect lives and properties in Hernando County. They indicate the risk for flooding throughout the County and Cities. However, the current maps are out of date. Some formerly rural areas were never mapped in detail, and other areas haven’t been re-mapped in more than 30 years. Over time, water flow and drainage patterns have changed dramatically due to surface erosion, land use and natural forces. The likelihood of inland, riverine and coastal flooding in certain areas has changed along with these factors.

New digital mapping techniques have provided more detailed, reliable and current data on County and City flood hazards. The result: a better picture of the areas most likely to be impacted by flooding and a better foundation from which to make key decisions.

2. Who is responsible for modernizing the maps?

Currently, there is a nationwide collaborative effort across all levels of government to update the nation's flood hazard data and provide it in a detailed, digital format, in accordance with a multi-year plan created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The effort evolved as a growing number of industries were impacted by out-of-date flood data.

Hernando County's map modernization project is a joint effort with FEMA in cooperation with SWFWMD, Hernando County, the City of Brooksville and private sector partners.

3. What is a Flood Hazard Map?

Flood hazard maps, also called “Flood Insurance Rate Maps” or “FIRMs” are used to determine the flood risk to your home or business. The low- and moderate-risk zones are represented on the maps by the letter “X” or an “X” that is shaded. The inland high-risk zones will be labeled with designations such as “A”, “AE”, “AO” or “AH”, and coastal high-risk zones that have additional risk from storm surge will be labeled “V” or “VE”.

4. What are the benefits of the new flood hazard maps?

The Map Modernization project has benefited numerous groups of people in different ways:
§ Community planners and local officials have gained a greater understanding of the flood hazards and risks that affect Hernando County and can therefore improve local planning activities.
§ Builders and developers have access to more detailed information for making decisions on where to build and how construction can affect local flood hazard areas.
§ Insurance agents, insurance companies, and lending institutions have easy on-line access to updates and upcoming changes in order to serve their customers and community more efficiently.
§ Home and business owners will have the ability to make better financial decisions about protecting their properties.

5. What is a floodplain and how do I determine if my property is located in this area?

A floodplain is the part of the land where water collects, pools, and flows during the course of natural events. Such areas are classified as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), and are located in a 100-year flood zone. The term "100-year flood" is a little confusing. It is the flood elevation that has a 1- percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year; it is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. The likelihood of a flood occurring within a 100-year stretch of time is very, very high, but there’s no way to predict when the next flood will occur – or the one after that. The redrawn maps indicate the floodplain as a “high-risk” area, officially classified as an AE, AO or A zone. Low- and moderate-risk areas will be designated as X zones and shaded X zones on the new maps.

The new maps are being made available for public view and review and are also available on the Internet. Visit the FEMA website to see the new maps ( www.msc.fema.gov  ) and The County GIS platform ( http://www.hernandocountygis-fl.us/centralgismap/default.htm?config=configDFIRM.txt  ) for more information.

6. How will the new flood hazard maps affect me?

Neighborhoods across Hernando County have been affected differently by these map changes. Some properties were not affected – their risk remained the same. Other properties were mapped into a higher-risk area and/or show a new Base Flood Elevation*. Some properties were mapped into a lower-risk area than before. Altogether, the statuses of more than 24,381 properties were revised to show increased risk. 391 properties were shown to have lower risk while 3,125 properties were confirmed to be within the high risk zones.

7. What will happen if I move from a low- or moderate-risk area to a high-risk area?

If the new maps indicate the building on your property is now at a higher risk for flooding, you will be required to purchase a flood policy if you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. If you do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you purchase flood insurance. Over the life of a 30-year loan, there is about a 3 times greater chance of having a flood in your home than having a fire*. And most homeowner’s insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding.

8. What will happen if I move from a high-risk to a low- or moderate-risk area?

When a building moves to a low- or moderate-risk area, there is no longer a federally mandated requirement to purchase flood insurance. However, the risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance is still recommended.

Upon the adoption of the new maps, you may be eligible for a lower-cost Preferred-Risk Policy (PRP). Through your insurance agent, it is simple to submit a PRP application and insured-signed conversion form to avoid any gaps in your flood coverage.

9. How might the new flood maps affect me financially?

When new maps were officially adopted, if your structure is mapped into a high-risk area and you have a mortgage with a federally-regulated lender, you will need to purchase flood insurance. If your property is mapped into a low-or moderate-risk area, you are not required to purchase or maintain insurance, but are strongly encouraged to do so. The cost of properly protecting your home and contents from flood damage is far less expensive than the cost to repair or replace it after a flood has occurred. http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/the_cost_of_flooding.jsp
Through the National Flood Insurance Program, coverage can often be obtained at significant savings. The average cost for a flood insurance policy is around $500 per year. Further, homeowners may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy that covers both a structure and its contents for as little as $112 per year. Coverage for renters starts at just $39 a year. Talk to your insurance agent to determine the appropriate level of protection you need and the money savings options that are available.

10. What is the Grandfathering Rule and how can it help me?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has “grandfathering” rules to recognize policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in place at the time of construction or who maintain continuous coverage. These rules allow such policyholders to benefit in the premium rating for their building. However, property owners should always use the new map if it will provide you with a more favorable premium. The “Grandfathering” rule has been phased out due to the Biggert-Waters 2012 legislation.

Renewal of An Existing Policy
When determining the premium you will pay for flood insurance, an insurance agent will rate your flood insurance policy based on the flood map that is in effect on the date you purchase your policy. The new Biggert Waters 2012 legislation removed the ability to assume an insurance policy and to continue paying a subsidized rate.

12. When did the new maps become effective?

The maps were published by FEMA with an adopted date of February 2, 2012.

13. How can I learn more about the flood map modernization process and how it could affect me?

The following is a list of resources and contact information if you have further questions regarding the Hernando County map modernization project:

Web site Resources:
§ Hernando County Web site: www.hernandocounty.us/FloodMap
§ FEMA Web site on Mapping: www.fema.gov//plan/prevent/fhm 
§ For general information about flood insurance: www.FloodSmart.gov 

Other Resources:

§ FEMA Map Assistance Center 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Open Monday-Friday, 8am-6:30pm
§ To purchase flood hazard maps for a nominal fee: 1-800-358-9616
§ For questions on flood policy coverage and rates: 1-800-427-4661


click for larger image
Structure damaged by
flooding in 2004 (Click image for larger version)