Revised federal floodplain maps for St. Mary’s County will be presented Monday, June 9, in Leonardtown. The changes, which will have to be locally adopted, take some properties out of floodplains and bring a few in.
The update will be used to determine flood insurance rates, which will likely increase if a threatened home isn’t elevated.
Last year, the St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management mailed out notifications to owners of 1,682 properties that had a change in their tidal floodplain designation. Of those, 803 had homes on them. Otherwise, there were 5,174 parcels in the tidal floodplain that saw no significant changes.
There are 536 miles of shoreline in St. Mary’s County, the fifth highest amount in the state, according to the Maryland Geological Survey.
There is a new transitional floodplain zone, which would require a home to be elevated on pilings instead of sitting on a closed foundation, said Sue Veith, St. Mary’s County government environmental planner.
“As a result of these map updates, some buildings in St. Mary’s County may, for the first time, be included in a high-risk flood zone, known as the Special Flood Hazard Area. This may result in mandatory purchase of flood insurance for those property owners who are affected,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency advised. “FEMA staff will be at the open house and will be available to talk to property owners about these updates and what it means to them.”
Any home in a flood zone with a federally regulated mortgage will be required to carry flood insurance after the new maps go into effect.
There is typically a 26 percent chance of flooding during the life of a 30-year mortgage on a home in a floodplain, Veith said, “and people outside of the floodplain also flood.”
The overall goal is to reduce the risk of flooding, improve safety and insure as many as possible, she said.
In one flood zone, the V zone, it would cost $10,536 a year in flood insurance to insure a $400,000 home. If the home was elevated to flood standards, the insurance would cost $3,780 instead, according to FEMA.
A new home costing $250,000 in the zone would cost $1,716 a year for flood insurance, but if the dwelling was elevated three feet above flood waters, the cost would be $552 a year.
The one-time cost of elevating a home in the floodplain saves money over time instead of paying higher flood insurance premiums. “You’ll more than save that money in short order,” Veith said.