Updated flood zone maps may mean higher insurance for some

(click to view as PDF)
Proposed FEMA flood insurance map. Pink indicates parcels that have changed (click to view as PDF).

If you’re one of about 300 affected property owners in Southborough, the rate you pay for flood insuarnce may be on the rise.

FEMA, the agency that determines where various flood zones lie, has been working with local engineering firms to update their Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Town Engineer John Woodsmall recently told selectmen that in Southborough the proposed changes mean some parcels that weren’t in flood zones before now are, and others that were in one type of flood zone are now in another.

In all, Woodsmall said about 300 properties in town are changing, and those changes may lead to higher insurance costs.

If your property is located in a flood zone, federal law requires you to carry flood insurance, and the amount of the insurance depends on whether you’re in a 100-year flood zone (1% annual chance) or a 500-year flood zone (0.2% annual chance).

Updating the flood mpas is a federal project, not a local one, Woodsmall told selectmen. “This process is not being driven by the town,” he said. “We didn’t ask for this to happen.”

FEMA does not typically notify property owners when flood zones change, so the town has taken it upon themselves to let affected owners know. A letter to property owners went out earlier this week. (If you didn’t recieve a letter, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief now.)

In updating their maps, FEMA used improved topography data from 2002, as well as work engineering firm Beals & Thomas did on the Fay School project in 2008, Woodsmall said.

A 90-day public comment period starts July 17. It’s the responsibility of the propoerty owner to appeal any decisions to FEMA.

Some DCR lang along the reservoir is affected by the zone updates, but Woodsmall said he did not believe any town-owned property was affected.

You can view all the proposed maps on the Department of Public Works website.

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