Recently, representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducted a Flood Risk Open House to give residents the opportunity to learn more about whether or not they are located in a floodplain and provide information about flood insurance.
Officials with the City of Brazil and Clay County are urging residents who may be living in a floodplain to get flood insurance sooner rather than later.
Brazil Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens told The Brazil Times flood insurance rates may be lower before the floodplain maps are officially adopted.
"If residents want to have flood insurance, they need to do so before the final maps come out so they can be grandfathered in at a lower rate," she said.
With the release of the area maps, which would be the first approved by FEMA, some property owners may have a status change regarding their risk, which directly affects insurance rates.
"Those in the floodplain areas did receive notification of their new status and about the Open House," Gibbens said. "If the flood risk changed from low or moderate to a high level, flood insurance is mandatory, but if a residence is no longer designated as a high flood risk, it is optional."
However, both Gibbens and Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband agreed it is still a good idea to have flood insurance in case of a major flooding event like the one that occurred in June 2008.
"There are a few floodplains in Clay County, including basically the entire river area from just north of Bowling Green all the way into Greene County," Husband said. "I advise property owners -- especially in flood risk areas -- to contact their insurance agent to discuss flood insurance."
Gibbens told The Brazil Times the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available to residents to utilize as well.
"The NFIP helps find the lowest rate possible for flood insurance," she said. "Another positive is that if a property owner already has flood insurance and their status has changed to a high flood risk, premiums should stay at the same amount it was at the lower level once the maps are adopted."
Currently, the floodplain maps are preliminary and in the map adoption process, they are currently in the 90-day public comment period in which appeals and protests may be made regarding risk status and the maps themselves.
Once the public comment period ends, a county, state and Federal review of any appeals will be conducted, and once completed, the maps will be final. Then a Letter of Final Determination will be mailed and each community will have six months to officially adopt the maps, which could happen in the last few months of 2010 in Clay County.
"Each community has the preliminary floodplain maps specific to their areas available for the public to view," Husband said.
To view the maps online, visit www.floodmaps.in.gov, click on Clay County for access to a map of the entire county. Further details maps can be accessed b clicking on a specific area on the county map.
For more information regarding flood insurance and the National Flood Insurance Program, contact a local insurance agent or visit www.floodsmart.gov.