Effective May 1, Clay County was converted to the Regular Phase of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband said the county had been requesting the conversion through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Water for a few years, but had been denied until now.
"When the county first became part of the NFIP in about 2004, we were listed under the Emergency Phase of the program, which is standard procedure," Husband told The Brazil Times. "Before we were part of the NFIP, residents living in a floodplain were unable to receive flood insurance."
Husband added without flood insurance, those living in a flood plain are unable to refinance a mortgage or receive a loan for home improvements.
While under the Emergency Phase, there was a limit in how much flood insurance coverage homeowners in floodplains could receive, which was $30,000.
"With the county's conversion to the Regular Phase of the NFIP, there is no limit or cap for the amount of flood insurance coverage residents may receive, other than what they can afford," Husband said. "This gives residents living in a floodplain the opportunity to purchase a larger amount of insurance and possibly be fully covered."
Husband told The Brazil Times homes constructed in a floodplain after May 1, 2010, are subject to actuarial rates, which are higher than before the conversion to the Regular Phase took place.
"This only applies to new construction after the conversion," Husband told The Brazil Times. "Structures and homes that already existed in the Special Flood Hazard Areas before May 1 are eligible to receive the first layer of flood insurance coverage at the subsidized rates, which may be lower, depending on the circumstance."
Those with existing structures may receive flood insurance at either the subsidized or actuarial rates, whichever produces the lower premium, on the first level, while the second tier of flood insurance coverage is subject only to the actuarial rates.
While rates may be higher now, being a part of the NFIP has been a benefit to the county.
"If the county wasn't a part of the NFIP, we may not have received as much assistance after the June 2008 flood," Husband said. "Also, it would have been a kind of 'final warning.' If an area is not part of the program and gets assistance in one disaster, they must become part of the program before a second disaster happens or else they would not get assistance the second time around."
Husband told The Brazil Times requirements for building a structure in a floodplain are still in place as well.
"Homes built in a floodplain are required to have a permit and must have the main structure at least two-feet above the 100-year flood elevation," he said. "This means the height of the foundation could vary depending on what area the construction takes place, which would be determined by an engineer."
Currently, the Flood Hazard Boundary Map for Clay County is still the one dated Nov. 25,1977, but the new maps -- which were displayed during a Flood Risk Open House in January -- may be approved and take effect later this year.
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 by 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.