Floodplain changes to save thousands in premium costs

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 67 views 

An approved change in Fort Smith floodplain maps could save city home and business owners thousands in insurance premiums beginning March 2012.

The city’s engineering department recently found errors and changes resulting from infrastructure work with floodplain lines required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Agency officials reviewed recently the about 12 stream miles of floodplains, using new hydrologic and hydraulic methodologies and input from the city.

“Subsequently, FEMA is updating several floodplain areas identified in the Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Study for the City. The revised floodplains were remapped using the City of Fort Smith’s 2-foot contour maps, and are being reissued with an effective date of March 2, 2012,” noted a city statement issued Monday (Dec. 12).

Following are the areas to be changed.
• Mill Creek: from U.S. Highway 271 to Cavanaugh Road
Base flood elevations lowered, benefitting 179 residential structures and 5 commercial structures

• Massard Creek: from Rogers Avenue to south of Zero
Base flood elevations lowered, benefitting 17 residential structures and 1 commercial structure

• Spivey Creek: from Massard Creek to Geren Road
Floodplain zone was redefined, benefitting 1 commercial structure and impacting 5 commercial structures

• No Name Creek: from west of 66th Street to south of Gordon Lane
Base flood elevations were remapped, impacting 10 apartment structures & 3 self-storage rental structures. South of Free Ferry Road, the base elevations were lowered, benefitting 2 residential structures and 3 commercial structures

• No Name Creek Tributary: from No Name Creek to west of South 46th Street
Base flood elevations lowered, benefitting 13 residential structures, 4 apartment structures, and 4 commercial structures. The floodplain was extended westerly, impacting 1 residential structure

According to data from FloodSmart.gov, the website for FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, the annual premium for a $100,000 residential structure (covering $30,000 in contents) is $1,129. The annual premiums range from $472 for a $35,000 structure to $2,930 for a $250,000 structure.

Assuming an annual premium savings of $1,129 for the 211 residential structures in the Fort Smith area, the cost savings totals $238,219.

Annual premiums for commercial structures ranges from $1,750 for a $100,000 structure to $12,296 for a $500,000 structure. Assuming all 14 commercial structures in Fort Smith now out of the floodplain are valued at $200,000, the annual premium savings is $49,154.

Snodgrass said FEMA is responsible to notify property owners of the changes, but the city also plans to support the process.

“(W)e’ve asked the regulatory agency to contact these property owners again to let them know about the corrections. However, we can’t guarantee that will happen. Our recommendation is that property owners in these locations contact their mortgage holder, take a look at the online maps, or give us a call in the Engineering Department at 479.784.2225,” Snodgrass noted in the statement. “It will also be important to coordinate the information with mortgage lenders and insurance agents. We’ll do our best to help our citizens understand how their property may be affected by the remapping.”

The city isn’t finished with floodplain remapping. The engineering department is working on another revision related to drainage work between Cavanaugh Road and the lower 28th Street crossing along Mill Creek. Snodgrass said one residential and five commercial structures could be removed from a floodplain area if FEMA approves the revision. He said the letter to FEMA could be sent in the next 30-60 days.