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In order to understand the study's impacts, an understanding of what the flood maps are and why they're produced is important.
Flood maps, or Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM's), are produced to delineate the extents of probable flooding based on a defined recurrence interval. The recurrence interval of once every 100 years has been chosen to define the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), and is based on the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The 100-year storm, as it is commonly referred to, is actually the storm event that has a 1% annual chance of occurring. Although this may seem like a small chance, this translates to a 40% chance of the storm occurring during any 50-year period.
The City of Taunton adopted these new maps in order for its residents to become eligible for flood insurance. Flood insurance is important since typical home owners insurance does not cover losses caused by flooding.
The location of your property, or your house more specifically, is important. If it located within the SFHA, flood insurance is required. If your house is not in the SFHA, your mortgage holder may still require flood insurance, but a much lower rate.
A brief word of caution: Delineating flood limits is far from an exact science. Changes in topography, inexact modeling of the ground and stream/river channels, changes in rainfall patterns, and even the timing of tides can all conspire to alter flood limits. Even if your house is not mapped in a flood zone and your mortgage holder is not requiring flood insurance, consideration should be given to purchasing it anyway.
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The resulting change to the flood limits in Taunton is minimal. In most cases, the base flood elevation (BFE) did not change. There are localized area where the BFE increased by one foot, and other areas where it was lowered by one foot. The single greatest contributing factor to the change in the limits is the use of more accurate topographic data, resulting in better mapping.
The Engineering Division reviewed the changes and identified 287 properties where there was a change of note in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This means we've identified those properties that were added into SFHA, those that were removed, those where the SFHA increased on their property and a house or other structure was included, and those where the SFHA was reduced and a house or other structure was removed.
Of the 287 properties identified, 106 were added into the SFHA, but only 30 had a structure added. 40 properties had the SFHA increase to where a structure was included. Additionally, 37 properties were removed from the SFHA and 104 had the SFHA reduced to the point where a structure was removed.
It is important to note that our review of these changes is not official. FEMA is the governing authority and the final determination of whether a property or house falls within a flood zone is up to them.
All new flood data published by FEMA is GIS (geographic information system) based. This electronic format makes it easy for lenders to identify properties affected by flood plain changes. Because of this, you may be contacted by your lender. It is important to note that a GIS query to identify affected individuals is based on parcel data only. Since flood insurance covers structures and not land, a property may be incorrectly identified as requiring insurance.
If you are one of those individuals whose property or house has been removed from the flood zone, this is probably good news. Unless you filed a flood insurance claim in the past, you are likely no longer required to carry flood insurance. Even if your lender still requires it, your rates should be a low hazard (reduced) rate.
If your property has been moved into a flood zone, you may still not have to carry flood insurance. The house on your property may not be in the flood zone, or inaccuracies in mapping may not properly show actual extents,
Of course there are those cases where a house has been included in a flood zone, and cannot be removed. Insurance rates may still be lowered by obtaining an Elevation Certificate. This certificate is used to establish the lowest adjacent ground elevation, and/or lowest floor elevation. An elevation certificate must be prepared by a licensed engineer or land surveyor.
Regardless of the situation, this office may be of some help. Feel free to call or email with any questions you may have.