2016-06-15 / News

FEMA OKs flood maps for Town of Shandaken

Property owners likely to be hit hard by insurance hikes
By Jay Braman Jr.

Long in the making, the updated flood maps for the Town of Shandaken are now in the hands of the Shandaken Town Board and FEMA is giving them less than six months to adopt them.

The maps have raised concerns in town because any home with a federally backed mortgage must carry flood insurance if it lies within flood boundaries, and those boundaries have become wider since events like Hurricane Irene hit in 2011.

Plus, reports of skyrocketing premiums have put a fright into many homeowners who previously never had any such expense.

According to Supervisor Rob Stanley, the more in harm’s way a home is, the higher the insurance cost will be.

“Rates vary dependent upon your proximity and elevation in relation to the estimated flood elevations,” he said at the June meeting of the town board.

Between now and the fall, the town will be reviewing a model flood plain ordinance, soon to be supplied by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and a flood insurance study supplied by FEMA.

Town’s timeframe

“We anticipate that we will fully adopt the ordinance, maps, and flood study by October or November,” he added. “ We will work to post copies of the new maps on the town website for review.”

In other preparations, the town has a newly certified floodplain manager, Code Officer Warren Tutt, who received his credentials last month.

“This opens up the way for the town to get registered with the Community Rating System which can help us reduce flood insurance rates town wide dependent upon our activities and efforts over the past few years,” said Stanley.

The higher premiums are the result of recent changes to the federal flood insurance program designed to bring insurance rates more in line with the real risk of flooding.

But the new rates have scared people who could face big premium jumps when flood maps are updated. Homeowners are seeing estimates that in many cases would force premium hikes of 10 times or more as their homes are judged to be at greater risk of flooding.

“Eric (Hofmeister) was telling me his insurance rate last month went up almost $1,500 in one fell swoop,” Stanley said. “And that’s only the first of a 25-percent increase that’s over the next four or five years….it’s not an easy topic.”

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