FEMA changes GC floodplain

Grove City residents hoping for good news regarding floodplain modifications gathered at City Hall on Jan. 17 to learn about changes made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The open house was sponsored by the city’s building division to assist citizens in preparing for revisions made by FEMA, which go into effect June 17. New data impacts property owners living throughout the area and includes information on properties removed or added to maps and parcels still located within 100-year floodplain boundaries.

This is the first time since 1995 changes were made to Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels for the Grove City area. Modifications could impact property owners who were once safely outside the floodplain, but now within it, and others who are no longer inside floodplain boundaries. Once maps are adopted, new flood insurance requirements become effective

Grove City resident and Jackson Township Assistant Fire Chief Rick Dawson said he was notified of FIRM changes indicating a small portion of his property is now in the floodplain.

"I live on a ravine and 30 feet below the level of my house is a creek," said Dawson as he wound his way through a viewing line stretching out the door of the city hall auditorium.

"Three feet of my property is now in the floodplain, but my house is paid for, so I’m here to see what’s going on."

Dawson added, "About six years ago, when a lot of Grove City flooded and water was knee deep in the city, my sump pump didn’t even run, so even though I’m now in the floodplain, my place stays dry."

Movement into the floodplain could pose significant financial concern for affected property owners – impacting a home’s resale value as well as an owner’s ability to secure building permits for new structures or renovations and additions to existing buildings.

However, the most immediate concern for many is insurance. Flood insurance is required by lenders and backed by the federal government for mortgages on properties located within the floodplain.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, flood damage is normally not covered under a homeowner’s policy and the average annual cost for a separate flood insurance policy in Ohio is approximately $483.

"Flooding is one of the perils not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy," reported ODNR’s Division of Water. "It is simply impossible for private insurance companies to spread the potentially huge flood loss payments over large enough numbers of policyholders to make such insurance coverage commercially possible."

"To overcome this problem, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968 to provide affordable flood insurance through a federal subsidy. However, Congress specified that such insurance can only be sold in communities that regulate floodplain development and apply for participation in NFIP."

Information on the rate map is used by the city to administer local flood damage protection regulations, by mortgage lenders to determine if flood insurance is required for residential or commercial properties, and by insurance agents in determining costs calculated on zone location, property valuation, and elevation.

New digital mapping techniques used by FEMA in generating the flood hazard maps provide more detailed, reliable, and current data resulting in a better picture of areas most likely impacted by flooding. Included in the data were formerly rural areas never mapped in detail and others that had not been remapped in more than 12 years.

Over time, water flow and drainage patterns change dramatically due to surface erosion, land use, and natural forces; therefore, the likelihood of inland and river line flooding in certain areas also change.

City Administrator Sharon Reichard said the meeting was important for residents notified of their status within the floodplain in order to have an open and public viewing of the flood insurance maps so they can protect themselves.

"We lived in Whitehall a long time ago and had flooding in our home," recalled Reichard. "We didn’t have flood insurance and we took a huge hit. We lost antiques, it blew our furnace, and the water came up to the third step in our basement."

Although owners properties removed from the floodplain no longer are required to maintain flood insurance, Michael Boso, chief building and zoning official said careful consideration should be paid before forgoing protection.

"As I saw personally during a two-day visit to inspect flood-damaged buildings in Findlay, Ohio last year, no properties are immune to the danger of flooding. While the law may not require it, flood insurance – particularly at the lower rate available for lands outside the floodplain – can provide the security of knowing your home can be repaired or rebuilt if disaster strikes," said Boso.

For more information and a list of affected properties and maps showing changes in the floodplain, visit the city’s Web site, www.grovecityohio.gov and select building from the city departments menu at the top of the page or contact the Grove City Building Division at 277-3075.

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