Map Quest: New Flood Maps Take Effect Soon

The clock is ticking on Harris County residents and business owners who may soon find themselves in a floodplain under new maps that take effect June 18th. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, they have about three weeks to either purchase flood insurance or pay higher rates when their floodplain status changes next month.

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The savings could be significant for residents and business owners who opt to buy flood insurance now instead of waiting until their floodplain status changes. The Harris County Flood Control District's Heather Saucier says lower rates will be effective right up until the eve of when the new maps take effect.

"Right up until June 17th they can buy flood insurance and grandfather in their floodplain status. Now of course this is only going to help people who on the old flood maps it showed that they were not in a floodplain but on the new flood maps they are. So they can grandfather in that status. Their rates will go up a little bit, but not as significantly as if they didn't grandfather in and then they are switched to a new floodplain status."

The number of Harris County residents in the floodplain is expected to rise from 20 percent to about 24 percent under the new maps. Saucier says that doesn't mean the actual flood plains are growing though.

"We have better technology today that helps us to determine our topography, which in turn helps us to determine the location of our floodplain. So we've got better technology today. These are the best maps we've ever had in the history of Harris County. Because they're more accurate, they're going to show more people in the floodplain."/em>

Although it's not a requirement if you're not in a floodplain, Saucier says it makes sense for all Harris County residents and businesses to have flood insurance. She says Tropical Storm Allison was a good example of that, a flood that affected many homes and businesses that weren't in the floodplain.

"We're all vulnerable to flooding here in Harris County because we're so flat and our climate is such that we get huge amounts of rain in very short periods of time, not to mention hurricanes and tropical storms. We're all at risk for flooding and what we need to do is protect ourselves financially with flood insurance."

Flood insurance can be purchased from any homeowner's insurance agent. Anybody in Harris County can guy flood insurance, regardless of floodplain status. You can check where your home or business falls under the new maps at www.tsarp.org.

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