Important Information regarding changes to Milford's Flood Hazard Maps
Flood hazard maps designating flood areas for Milford are due to change in the coming year. This change could have a major impact on property owners in Milford, affecting insurance rates, construction requirements, and other standards for more than 3,000 property owners. By learning about these changes ahead of time you may be able to plan for them, including obtaining insurance so that you are grandfathered in at lower insurance rates.
The city held information sessions for affected residents on April 25 and 26. To view the presentations, click the links below:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why is Milford getting new flood hazard maps?
Flood hazard maps, also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), are used to indicate the risk for flooding throughout the community. However, the current maps need to be updated. Over time, water flow and drainage patterns have changed dramatically due to surface erosion, land use and natural forces. The likelihood of flooding in certain areas has changed along with these factors.
This study integrates the most current rainfall, elevation and other key data with the last modeling technology to provide the most up-to-date picture of the area’s flood risk. The result: a better picture of the areas most likely to be impacted by flooding and a better foundation from which to make key decisions.
2. Who is responsible for updating the maps?
This project is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) effort, which through more accurate flood hazard maps, risk assessment tools, planning and outreach support, will strengthen Milford’s ability to make informed decisions about reducing flood risk and enhance its ability to communicate that risk to residents and business owners.
3. What is a Flood Hazard Map?
Flood hazard maps, also called “Flood Insurance Rate Maps” or “FIRMs” are used to determine the flood risk to your home or business. The moderate- and low-risk zones are represented on FIRMs by the letter “X.” High-risk zones will be labeled with an "AE" and high-risk zones that have additional risk from storm surge will be labeled “VE.” In addition, the map will indicate for a Base Flood Elevation, which is the computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood.
The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. The relationship between the BFE and a structure's elevation determines the flood insurance premium.
4. What is a floodplain and how do I determine if my property is located in this area?
A floodplain is the part of the land where water collects, pools and flows during the course of natural flood events. Such areas are classified as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), and are located in a “100-year flood zone.” The term 100-year flood can be misleading. It is the flood elevation that has a 1- percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year; it is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. The likelihood of a flood occurring within a 100-year stretch of time is very, very high, but there’s no way to predict when the next flood will occur—or the one after that. The redrawn maps indicate the floodplain as a “high-risk” area, officially classified as an AE or VE zone. Moderate- and low-risk areas will be designated as X zones and shaded X zones on the new maps. If you would like to see a map for a spcific address, or have another question, e-mail us at: email@example.com
5. How will the new flood hazard maps affect me?
Neighborhoods across Milford will be affected differently by these map changes. There will be some properties that aren’t affected—their risk remains the same. Other properties will be mapped into a higher-risk area and/or show a new Base Flood Elevation. Some properties will be mapped into a lower-risk area than before. Altogether, more than 3,000 properties will show some change. Please note that the flood changes may affect a portion of property, and that many properties are in more than one flood zone. Therefore, the only way to completely understand
the impact on your property is to review actual flood maps with a staff member. In addition, even if your zone is not chaning, the Base Flood Elevation may be changing, which has a significant impact on construction standards of the buidling, and whether it is in compliance with existing code.
6. What will happen if my building is remapped from a moderate- or low-risk area to a high-risk area?
If the new maps—once adopted—indicate the building on your property is now at a higher risk for flooding, you will be required to purchase a flood policy if you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender. If you do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you purchase flood insurance. Over the life of a 30-year loan, there is about a 2 ½ times greater chance of having a flood in your home than having a fire. And most homeowners’ insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has extended the low-cost PRP eligibility period for two years to properties newly mapped into a high-risk zone. In addition, there are “grandfathering” rules to recognize policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map or who maintain continuous coverage.
7. What will happen if my building is remapped from a high-risk to a moderate- or low-risk area?
When a building is remapped into a moderate- or low-risk area, there is no longer a federally mandated requirement to purchase flood insurance. However, the risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance is still recommended.
Upon the effective date of the new maps, you may be eligible for a lower-cost Preferred-Risk Policy (PRP). Through your insurance agent, you can easily avoid any gaps in your flood coverage and receive a refund of unused premium by converting your existing policy to a PRP back to its last effective date.
8. How might the new flood maps affect me financially?
When new maps become effective, if your building is newly mapped into a high-risk area and you have a mortgage with a federally regulated or insured lender, you will need to purchase flood insurance. If your property is mapped into a moderate-or low-risk area, you are not required by federal law to purchase or maintain insurance, but are strongly encouraged to do so and your lender may still require you to do so. The cost of properly protecting your home and contents from flood damage is far less expensive than the cost to repair or replace it after a flood has occurred.
Through the National Flood Insurance Program, coverage can often be obtained at significant savings. The average cost for a flood insurance policy is around $600 per year. Further, homeowners may qualify for a Preferred Risk Policy that covers both a building and its contents for as little as $129 per year. Coverage for renters starts at just $49 a year. Talk to your insurance agent to determine the appropriate level of protection you need and the money savings options that are available.
9. How can I reduce the cost of flood insurance?
Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Two solutions the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers to help lower the cost of flood insurance include Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) and the Grandfathering Rule.
PRPs, which start at just $129 a year, are only available for properties in moderate-to-low risk areas. However, recognizing the financial burden that being mapped into a high-risk area and having to purchase flood insurance can place on affected property owners, FEMA extended the eligibility period of the low-cost PRP for two years for buildings that have been newly mapped into high-risk flood zones. In general, this cost-saving option is available to property owners whose buildings have a favorable flood loss history and who may or may not have received limited amounts of federal disaster assistance.
The NFIP “Grandfathering” rules recognize policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in place at the time of construction or who have maintained continuous coverage. These rules allow such policyholders to benefit in the premium rating for their building. Flood insurance premiums should be calculated using the new map if it results in a lower premium.
Renewal of an Existing Policy
When determining the premium you will pay for flood insurance, an insurance agent will rate your flood insurance policy based on the flood map that is in effect on the date you purchase your policy. Flood insurance policies may then be renewed and still be rated based on the flood map in effect when the policy was initially rated as long as the flood insurance coverage is continuous and the building has not been altered in a manner that would remove this benefit. For example, if the building on the property is currently mapped in an X zone, you could purchase the policy before the flood maps are adopted and keep the lower rate associated with the X zone even after the new flood maps become effective. To help maintain this grandfathering benefit for the next owner, you may transfer the policy to them at the time of sale. An insurance agent can provide you with information about eligibility for the PRP and the PRP Two-Year Eligibility Extension.
Built in Compliance
The NFIP will honor a Grandfather rule for buildings constructed after the first flood map for the community became effective if:
- the building was built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction; and
- the building has not been substantially damaged or substantially improved.
Under this Grandfather rule, the property owner must provide proper documentation to the insurance company.
- If you wish to keep the zone designation in effect when the building was constructed, you must provide a copy of the flood map effective at the time of construction showing where the building is located or present a letter from a community official verifying this information.
- In general, for buildings constructed in high-risk zones after the community’s first flood map was adopted, your rates are based upon the difference between the flood map’s Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and your building’s elevation. If there is a change in the BFE and keeping the BFE that existed when the building was first constructed gives you a better rate, you must provide the agent with an Elevation Certificate and a copy of the flood map effective at the time of construction. A letter from a community official verifying this information is also acceptable.
For more information on PRPs and the Grandfathering rule, you should contact your agent or go to this link
10. What if my home or business is mapped into a high-risk area but I believe the designation is in error?
Flood map designations are based on the best data available to engineers and local officials at the time areas within a community are surveyed and assessed. Every effort is made to ensure that the maps reflect the most accurate and reliable information about the flood risk for all properties. However, re-examining and updating flood hazard information for an entire community is often a multi-year process, and you may feel that you have more accurate or current data about your property when new maps are eventually completed and released to the public. Information on the process of ammending the flood zone designation for a property can be found here.
As a mechanism to ensure that residents’ questions or concerns about the new map designations are addressed, a 90-day “Public Comment Period” takes place. During this period, citizens will have the opportunity to submit technical and/or scientific data to support a claim that their property has been improperly placed in a high-risk area. If you have better information, such as an Elevation Certificate, topographic map or detailed hydraulic or hydrologic data, then you may be able to protest or appeal the flood risk indicated on the new maps.
11. When do the new maps become effective?
The maps are still preliminary. The process that leads to final adoption and the maps becoming effective can last as long as a year or more.
Initial release is followed by a short review period by community officials. Then there is a 90-day “Public Comment Period.” For more information on the schedule to update Milford's flood maps see this link:
12. How can I learn more about the flood mapping process and how it could affect me?
The following is a list of resources and contact information if you have further questions:
Web site Resources:
- E-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Emmeline Harrigan, Floodplain Coordinator for the City of Milford (203) 783-3354 or email@example.com
- FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627)
- Open Monday-Friday, 8am-6:30pm
- To view, or purchase flood hazard maps for a nominal fee: 1-800-358-9616
- For questions on flood policy coverage and rates: 1-800-427-4661