Claremore Daily Progress

November 15, 2012

FEMA flood maps cause frustration

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Many Rogers County residents may be surprised to learn that recent changes to the FEMA flood plain maps have thrown them into high water.

The problem is that property that has not been listed in the 100-year floodplain is now facing additional insurance requirements.
Homeowners in these areas now must spend anywhere from $500 to $2,000 on the low end for insurance, according to Rogers County Planning Commission Director Larry Curtis. Prices can vary depending on the property size and value. Additionally, participation in the National Flood Insurance Program is keeping the price from being much higher, according to Curtis.
Curtis said that rates would otherwise be as much as $6,000 a year for residents without the NFIP. Even with the lower price some residents are still feel shocked to learn they live in a floodplain, Curtis added.
Flood insurance plans are issued through FEMA although a few companies offer coverage separately, he said.
Lindsay Bippus is just one example of a property owner dealing with the issue. Bippus owns property near 161st Street in Owasso.  
The property has never flooded and recently she discovered it was located in the floodplain.
“It is very frustrating,” Bippus said.
Like many other property owners in the area, she is now required to get flood insurance or a new survey and elevation study to appeal FEMA’s decision.
The study has to determine that the property is above the flood plain and could cost $800 to $2,000 depending on the size of the property. Bippus is working to resolve the issue through FEMA after she learned her neighbor is not listed in the floodplain.
“We are trying to determine if there is any recourse with FEMA,” Bippus said.
“It is not all doom and gloom,” Curtis said. The Rogers County Planning Commission is available to assist property owners with questions and appeals to FEMA. Rogers County offers information to residents regarding the floodplain online at www.rogerscounty.org.
Interactive GIS mapping is available   free of charge for property owners to locate and research the issue, according to Curtis.
“FEMA increased the size of the Zone A floodplain this year more than any decrease to the 100 year floodplain,” Curtis said. The only way to be removed is to have a survey done by a state certified surveyor, according to Curtis.
Rogers County provides the information but has no control over how the flood plain determination is written, he added. When the changes were made in April of this year notifications were mailed by many mortgage companies to homeowners, however many people still are not aware of the issue. 
All property owners should be aware of the new floodplain and those that do not currently have a mortgage may not receive any notification. Normal homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage.
“I always recommend even if you do not have a mortgage, to get flood insurance if your property is in the flood plain,” Curtis said.
People can go through the online flood maps or call the office at (918) 341-0486 with their E911 address and we will be happy to help, Curtis said.