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Bartholomew County residents concerned about changes to flood insurance requirements on their property have about three months to voice objections.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Indiana Department of Natural Resources have proposed new flood insurance rate maps for the community, changing the flood status of more than 3,200 property owners, according to officials with the city-county planning department.
Some residents will find their property is now considered in the floodplain where it wasn’t before, while others will find out that their property is considered high-and-dry, despite flooding on their land. In either case, they could face changes to their insurance requirements for federally backed mortgages.
All of the affected property owners received letters about two years ago announcing the proposed changes, said Thom Weintraut, a senior planner in the city-county planning department in charge of flood issues.
At that time, property owners could ask for the proposed status of their properties to be changed. About 100 people with concerns over the map changes attended a January 2012 public meeting with FEMA and the DNR, Weintraut said.
Changes from the previous round of public input and appeals have been added to the new maps issued late last month, opening a 90-day window for appeals. The largest of the changes from the previous flood maps are happening in the Taylorsville and Walesboro areas, said Jeff Bergman, director of the city-county planning department. In some areas, the boundaries receded, and in others the boundary swelled.
One area that could be a surprise is those who live along Haw Creek and remember the 2008 flood. Because the flood maps only mark the 100-year and 500-year flood boundaries and the 2008 flood swelled far past that, areas that were underwater five years ago may not be considered within the flood bounds of the new maps.
Appeals must be filed with the city-county planning department before Jan. 25, Weintraut said. However, the appeal must be accompanied by evidence, such as professional engineering assessments, that show the need for the change. Weintraut said putting together those studies could be time-consuming and expensive and recommended that neighbors facing the same issue could work together to file those appeals soon.
Once the 90-day appeal period ends and the new maps are adopted, the new flood insurance requirements will go into effect, Weintraut said.
A large difference in the newest flood maps is the addition of aerial photography, Weintraut said. Previously, the maps were only done in a schematic format, making it difficult to determine the exact location of a home or property. Now, residents can see their actual building or land on the aerial images, making it easier to see the impact of the new boundaries.
The flood map revision has been in the works for 29 years, according to the DNR. Bergman said the federal government originally told the city that the revisions would be done by 2005.
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