The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently revised the Worcester County Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and has placed Worcester County and incorporated areas in a 90-day appeal period, which runs from March 14 – June 11, 2014. During this time, property owners may appeal preliminary FIRMs provided they can supply scientific information that the preliminary FIRMs are incorrect.
The FIRMs indicate flood-prone areas in Worcester County; insurance companies use FIRMs to determine flood insurance rates for buildings and contents. In most cases, the base flood elevations on the maps have been reduced significantly and in some cases by several feet. However, there are areas in Worcester County that will have an increase in base flood elevations. These changes will affect property owners’ insurance rates. Preliminary FIRMs are available for viewing at www.mdfloodmaps.com. FEMA published information regarding the appeal process in the Federal Register (Vol. 79, No. 20, January 30, 2014), Ocean City Today newspaper (March 7 and 14, 2014), and Worcester County Times newspaper (March 6 and 13, 2014).
“The County’s primary message continues to be to encourage Worcester County property owners to consider retaining their flood insurance coverage, even if their properties are no longer officially mapped in the flood plain once the new maps are adopted,” Commission President Church said. “While it may be tempting to save a few hundred dollars by dropping flood insurance, the savings will pale in comparison to the thousands of dollars in potential losses caused by flooding in a major storm.”
To file an appeal, information must be provided to FEMA that shows the preliminary FIRMS dated July 19, 2013 are scientifically or technically incorrect. This information would include hydrologic studies, hydraulic analyses, or topographic/elevation information certified by a Maryland licensed Surveyor or Professional Engineer.
Those who live in incorporated areas (Ocean City, Berlin, Snow Hill or Pocomoke City), should contact their town offices for information on filing an appeal. Those who live in unincorporated areas of Worcester County, please see form – “Worcester County Application Information for Appeal of a FEMA Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map,” on the Worcester County website. Also available on the website is the FEMA publication “Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps,” dated November 30, 2011, which must be followed to file an appeal. Both the application and the FEMA publication are available at www.co.worcester.md.us under current news.
County property owners are urged to know how FIRM changes apply to their individual properties and to continue to maintain adequate flood insurance protection regardless of these changes. Appeals should be submitted first to Worcester County Development Review and Permitting (DRP) for review. DRP then will assist applicants to submit valid appeals to FEMA. For information about the FIRMs or the appeals process, please contact DRP at 410-632-1200.