Some Woodbury homes may qualify for flood insuranceSome residents in Woodbury may soon be able to qualify for flood insurance.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Some residents in Woodbury may soon be able to qualify for flood insurance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is holding a “Flood Risk Information” open house 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23 at the Washington County Government Center in Stillwater. The purpose of the open house is to give county residents an opportunity to review a recently completed flood insurance study and to see if their property is included in the study’s preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
As a part of FEMA’s flood insurance study and mapping, 750 parcels of land inside the Woodbury city limits were included on the preliminary flood zone map. Five hundred of those properties have structures on them, which according to city officials, are located generally near the city’s main lakes.
“For most properties, this is a ‘good news’ story because previously, the (property owners) couldn’t get flood insurance, and now they’ll be able to,” said Woodbury city administrator Clint Gridley.
FEMA has never previously done flood mapping in Washington County.
The Wednesday open house will be staffed by representatives from various local, state and federal agencies who will provide the most current information about flood risk, flood insurance and the process FEMA used for its floodplain mapping of Washington County.
Last week, the Woodbury City Council reviewed the recently released preliminary floodplain map of the area. The council discussed the progress of the situation in conjunction with the city’s progress on its capital plan for improvements to its stormwater system for areas affected by the October 2005 rainfall event that caused flooding in some neighborhoods. The city is also preparing a flood proofing plan regarding the significant rainfall event that it will present publicly in March.
Gridley said the timing of FEMA’s floodplain mapping and the city’s ongoing work in response to the October 2005 rainfall event are coincidental, but he admitted that the flood insurance study of the county will probably be good news for residents in areas like Lake Wilmes, who experienced a large rise in the lake level during the “big rain.”
“Overall, I think it’s a good thing,” Gridley said. “There were some folks who experienced that flooding that’s the first thing they asked, is when they could qualify for flood insurance.”
Expense of insurance
City engineer Don Wisniewski said some residents who find out their property is located in the floodplain zone, may want to see if they can pull it out if they can prove their property is above the 100-year flood level. Residents who can do so can then file a letter of map amendment to exclude their property from the flood insurance map.
As a part of FEMA’s flood insurance study, those who qualify for high-risk insurance can receive up to $250,000 for damage to their home or business, and up $100,000 for damage to contents in the structure. But they will end up playing a high premium Wisniewski said.
“For some of those properties, their lender will likely require they carry flood insurance, and the premium rate is about 1-percent of the policy,” Wisniewski said.
That means some property owners could be shelling out as much as $2,500 per year for flood insurance.
The city is considering holding an open house sometime in February or March for Woodbury residents only.
Residents will be allowed to comment at both the county meeting in Stillwater and the likely Woodbury-specific meeting. The city of Woodbury will then be given 90 days after the Jan. 23 open house to provide comment on the maps, which will be finalized later this year.
Gridley said a localized version of the FEMA open house may be easier for local residents to attend and to get more information for their specific property.
‘the city can provide certain levels of assistance by providing maps and over the counter assistance,” Gridley said. “But it will be up to the private property owner to deal with FEMA.”