March 13, 2013
LIMA — More than 1,000 properties once thought dry have now been designated as sitting in a floodplain, according to an updated Allen County map that becomes official May 2.
This means property owners who suddenly find themselves within a flood zone will have to add insurance coverage if they have a mortgage. On the other hand, some properties were ruled dry with this new map, although prior maps placed them within the floodplain. Those homeowners can choose to drop their extra flood insurance.
“If you currently have flood insurance, you should investigate your current situation,” said Douglass Degen, Allen County drainage engineer.
A floodplain is defined as a flat area near a body of water that’s prone to flooding.
Delphos, in particular, has more properties within a floodplain on the new map than before. But most properties within this zone have been determined on a case-by-case basis, due to various map shifts.
There are now 5,641 parcels within a floodplain with the most recent map. The last map had 3,908 parcels. When measuring the difference in acreage, 15,849.5 acres are in a floodplain zone versus 14,380 acres on the previous map.
The last map including the entire county was made in 1989, although some towns had updated sections of the county since then. In 1989, the map’s boundaries were in 5-foot increments. Now, levels are in 1-foot increments and include much more information due to computerization and topography measurements.
“Your old floodplain mapping was more of a straight line. It was kind of ambiguous, and with our new hydraulic modeling, we were actually able to get more of a refined line,” Degen said.
The updated map has been more than eight years in the making and has cost about $856,000, said Thomas Mazur, floodplain coordinator and executive director of the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission. Allen County groups, FEMA and the U.S. Geological Survey funded most of the project. These maps are regulated through Ohio Revised Code, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources also being involved in the process.
Banks usually require purchasing floodplain insurance when a property is within a floodplain. Prices vary. Mazur said for those who are not in the floodplain but want flood insurance as a safety net, it costs about $340 yearly for a $100,000 home, which includes $40,000 in contents protection. Prices are much higher for those within a floodplain, he said. Homeowner’s insurance is separate.
“If a property owner was outside the floodplain and now finds themselves in the floodplain because of the latest modeling, they can get a 24-month reprieve. They can basically pick up kind of a premium package for 24 months to basically soften the blow of having to acquire floodplain insurance,” Mazur said.
“The lending institutions are evaluating the situation as well,” Degen said. “If you have a loan, they’re going to be looking at the new floodplain mapping also. And if you didn’t used to be in it but now you are, you could probably be getting a call from them.”
Another way landowners could be affected by the changes is if they decide to establish new septic systems or wells in an area within a floodplain. But Bill Kelly, environmental health director at the Allen County Health Department, doesn’t think it will be too much of an issue.
“We’ve had a couple cases where floodplains have changed. The property was built years and years ago, and now it’s in a floodplain. If they want to drill a new well, you make them go through a few more hoops,” Kelly said.
To check the new map, go to www.allencountyohauditor.com, click “Maps & GIS,” and click “Floodplain Maps” link near the top right. From there, users may compare the old floodplain borders with the new ones.