Agents, officials field flood questions

May 4, 2012 • Local News

Since 1995, Mark and Shirley Simon have seen their flood insurance rates on their residence on Third Street near Cahoon Park fluctuate as it comes in and out of flood zones. Now just half a block outside a low-risk flood zone, the couple is still considering flood insurance.

“I’m thinking about keeping it but trying to get a reduced rate,” Shirley said. “When you shop around, it’s a lot cheaper, the different agencies.”

“And I mean as much as it’s been raining lately,” Mark joked.

The Simons were just two of the attendees at Thursday evening’s flood seminar sponsored by Farmers Insurance agents Bobby Villegas, Edubina Morales and Romo Villegas and Pioneer Bank. Jim Thomas, of the city’s engineering department, also fielded questions.

Effective [auth] March 23, a revised Flood Insurance Rate Map shows area floodplains as significantly smaller. A FEMA FIRM details what is called the 100-year flood, the flood that has a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. This type of flood is characterized by 5.2 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

For those who are not in the floodplain but still want to purchase flood insurance, rates could be as low as a couple hundred of dollars annually.

Villegas estimated that 40 percent of residences have been removed from the floodplain. “People are going to save money because even though they’re in the floodplain, some of the flood zones have changed to a preferred rate,” he said. While a minute percentage, some residences, particularly in the county, have been brought into the plain that weren’t there previously.

Anyone with a federally backed mortgage in a special flood hazard area is required to have flood insurance. Those in the highest risk zone could pay as much as thousands of dollars annually. At one time, the Simons paid around $800 annually for their flood insurance.

Since 2003, the city has been in a tango with FEMA in an attempt to appeal its floodplain maps for the area. For nine years and during two of the area’s worst drought periods, many Roswell residents may have been paying unnecessarily high flood insurance rates. Dick Smith, superintendent for the Chaves County Flood Control, commented on the previous rates FEMA established. “It was way out of line. (FEMA) raised the flood insurance premiums here over $1 million a year for a town that has had two claims since 1983.”

“I owe $26,000 on my house. If I was to resell it, it’s worth $55,000 tops. I have to carry $67,000 worth of insurance. Why?,” one resident asked. “I just want the loan paid for in (the case of) a flood.”

Mary Beth Hanagan said, “I have friends who live in Pennsylvania. They’ve been flooded three times, and my flood insurance is higher than theirs.”

Residents are encouraged to contact their insurance carriers and financial institutions to determine their places on the new map.

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