FEMA finalizes flood hazard zone maps for Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Freddy Laboy knows normally when it rains in Florida, It pours.

“Four years ago it got really bad,” he says. “I remember I was inside with my wife watching a movie, next thing I know it was completely flooded.”

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Freddy says that was an isolated incident in his neighborhood, so knowing that his home is now in a flood zone is a bit surprising.

 

“We never flood here and now it's something to think about ... (getting) insurance.”

Freddy's property is one of 50,839 in Palm Beach County located in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s newly mapped special flood hazard area.

The maps show that 45,640 properties are seeing the opposite effect and are now out of the flood zone. While 36,983 properties are staying in the flood hazard area.

County water resource manager Ken Todd says they provided data to FEMA that helped shape the new maps.

“FEMA felt that these maps had not been updated in close to 40 years in some instances,” he says.

Todd says for the people now out of the zone, it means flood insurance may not be not required.

For the people now in a flood zone, it’s a different story.

“If you have a federally backed loan, you will be required to get flood insurance,” Todd says.

He says they are working to gather new data to help remove even more properties from the flood zones.

Freddy says he can understand if some homeowners are hesitant about the new maps.

“A lot of people will say ‘I've been living here a lot of years, nothing has happened’.” he says.

Now he essentially doesn't have a choice.

“If I need to get it, I'll get it. It's better to be safe than sorry.”

In an opposite case, Sharon Taurel's home is now out of a flood zone.

"It feels great, you know, you are safer," she says. She adds that her development has improved its anti-flood infrastructure.

"Earlier, before they put the canal doors in, the water used to cover half my backyard, so I know how it feels to be like, 'oh my gosh, it's approaching.'"

Holly Meyer Lucas from Meyer Lucas Real Estate, EXP, says just because you might not be required to buy insurance anymore, think twice before dropping it.

"If we have a flood, the flood isn't necessarily going to care if you're in the zone or if you're not. So, flood insurance, for how inexpensive it is, the reward is substantial," she says.

Click here for a link to the map.

What the symbols and zones mean:

X zone and X500 (previously B & C) are considered Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas (typically, flood insurance is not required by lender)

AE, AH, AO, V are all considered Special Flood Hazard areas (typically flood insurance would be required, if there is a federally backed mortgage)

For more information about the maps, contact the Planning, Zoning and Building Administration at 561-233-5306.

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