A look at critical areas newly impacted by proposed changes to flood plain regulations

By Corene Brisendine

Three residential areas in Manhattan will be hit hardest by the new FEMA floodplain when those maps become effective next year.

About 450 property owners are to be included in the redrawn floodplain, according to city officials. In addition to the properties that are being mapped into the floodplain, about 270 properties will be removed and about 130 will remain inside the floodplain.

Redbud Estates will see the most significant impact as a residential area. With the inclusion of the 2011 flood data along Wildcat Creek into the mapping process, the floodplain will expand to include the entire mobile home park. In addition to the park, businesses along Amherst Drive east of Linear Trail will also be included.

Another area impacted along Wildcat Creek is near Anneberg Park. Several recent housing developments including parts of Pebble Brook apartments, and homes along Highland Ridge Drive, Stone Drive and Stone Grove Drive will be in the floodplain.

The other major portion of town affected by the new floodplain maps includes a large section of town next to Eisenhower Middle School. Inclusion of data from the ’93 flood along the Big Blue River influenced the inclusion of several properties near that school. The new floodplain will affect houses along Johnstowne Circle, Northwing Drive and the west side of Nelson’s Landing. Another strip of houses along the south side of Walters Drive just south of Eisenhower’s baseball fields will also be included.

The majority of the new floodplain in the northeast covers farmland.

The rest of the properties affected by the new maps are piecemeal along Little Kitten and Wildcat Creeks. The new floodplain along Little Kitten extends to the northern edge of Vanesta Drive and along the backside of the properties along Little Kitten Avenue. It drops south all the way to Anderson Avenue, where it joins up with Wildcat Creek. The intersection has also expanded the floodplain along Woodduck Way and Whitetail Pass.

City planner Chad Bunger said that whether homeowners will have to purchase flood insurance depends on the lender. The federal government requires all federally backed mortgage holders to purchase flood insurance if the structure is within the floodplain. However, if a property owner does not have a mortgage or if the structure on the property is not in the floodplain, there is no law requiring the owners to purchase flood insurance.  In those instances, however, the uninsured property owner would assume the risk for any flood-related loss.

In addition to federally backed mortgages, he said some lending companies also require home owners to purchase flood insurance if their house or property is inside a floodplain. He said while there is no federal law requiring flood insurance for structures outside the floodplain, some lenders still may require the extra insurance because the floodplain is on the property.

Bunger noted that standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage.

On average, Manhattan property owners pay $735 in premiums for flood insurance each year. Renters average $49 a year for content coverage, and homeowner can purchase content coverage for as little as $149 a year.

Bunger urges renters and home owners to purchase coverage for their contents even if they are not required to purchase flood insurance. He said if a natural disaster is declared, property owners without flood insurance would still qualify for some compensation — either a low interest loan or possibly a grant—but it would not be enough to cover the cost of repairs and replace the lost contents of the home.

Although the costs of owning or renting within these areas will increase, residents will have until October 2014 to purchase the additional insurance.

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