Sussex Co. Residents Learn About Proposed Changes To Flood Maps - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Sussex Co. Residents Learn About Proposed Changes To Flood Maps

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SUSSEX CO., Del. – According to the National Flood Insurance Program, when it comes to floods, even a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

"Flooding is a big deal," says Steve Barnard, a Rehoboth, Delaware resident.

Currently in Sussex County, 30,000 of the more than 136,000 establishments in Sussex County are within flood plains, also known as "flood prone" areas. The plains are determined through federally-mandated maps, which are used by insurance companies to set flood insurance rates.

For the first time since 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made proposed changes to the maps. The agency joined Sussex County officials in hosting a public meeting on Monday to explain the changes to property owners and residents, and identify whether or not their homes are affected.

"What we're saying here is where the flood has gone since the last map was made," says Dave Bollinger, mitigation outreach coordinator for FEMA.

To make the new maps, FEMA used topography and light-emitting radar. Bollinger says if the proposal goes through, in the future, if they have to make any changes, they can just layer the maps on top of one another.

"That way it's less costly to the tax payers for us to redo these maps," says Bollinger. "They are much more accurately done."

"They are more detailed and they are relying on better data," says Chip Guy, chief of public information for the Sussex County Administration.

While county officials do not believe that the proposal will affect most homes, the changes could put residents in a high-risk flood zone, known as the Special Flood Hazard Area. This may require the homeowner to purchase flood insurance, and in many cases, it is not cheap.

"That's always a concern because it is getting expensive to have flood insurance," says Bollinger.

Bollinger is strongly urging all homeowners, not only those in the high risk area, to start taking precautions.

"Everyone has a risk of flooding," says Bollinger. "Know your risk, mitigate your risk, and protect yourself and insure what you can't mitigate. That way, not if, but when a flood happens, people are prepared."

However, this is easier said than done for some residents. Lois Peters, a homeowner in Prime Hook beach, says flood insurance may not be an option.

"Are we going to be able to even afford insurance? Well we do not now, and I don't know that we will be able to," says Peters. "It's a totally different community now, our roads flood all the time. We're in jeopardy, we're just in jeopardy up to our eyeballs."

Bollinger says the new maps are still just in the proposal stage, and they have to go through an appeal process before becoming permanent. To find out where your home stands, visit the Coastal Analysis and Mapping website.

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