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New FEMA flood maps stand to place thousands more Palm Beach County residents in high-risk zones

Homeowners in new high-risk zones & with federal mortgages will need federal flood insurance by Dec. 20
Flooding, flood, Lake Worth Beach on June 12, 2024
Posted at 6:47 PM, Jul 09, 2024

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County officials are looking for solutions for homeowners as new FEMA flood maps may force thousands to buy federal flood insurance.

"Anyone that has federal mortgages that are in the high-risk flood zone or going in will be required to get flood insurance," Doug Wise, the county's building director, said during a Tuesday workshop.

Wise and a team of Planning and Zoning officials faced county commissioners at a meeting to outline the effect of the new maps and possible solutions to ease the impacts.

The new FEMA maps, Flood Zones (palm-beach.fl.us), stand to place thousands more residents into high-risk zones.

Doug Wise, Palm Beach County's building director, speaks about how the new FEMA flood maps could impact residents.
Doug Wise, Palm Beach County's building director, speaks about how the new FEMA flood maps could impact residents.

Planning and Zoning officials are recommending the county conduct its own more detailed mapping to try and convince FEMA to reconsider some of the new zones.

"These maps are coming. FEMA is issuing these maps whether we like it or not," Commissioner Marci Woodward said. "We have options on how we can help our residents because these maps have very real repercussions to a lot of homeowners in the county."

Besides new mapping, the options also include improving how the county scores on FEMA's Community Rating System (CRS).

Currently, Palm Beach County is scoring a 5 out of 10, resulting in a 25% discount on federal insurance premiums.

"Theoretically we're trying to get a 30% discount, but it's not just about insurance," Wise said. "It's about making sure if there is a flood event people can go back to their homes."

Robert Norberg of Arden Insurance offers homeowners flood insurance advice amid the implementation of new FEMA flood maps.
Robert Norberg of Arden Insurance offers homeowners flood insurance advice amid the implementation of new FEMA flood maps.

Improving the FEMA rating score and remapping is estimated to cost over $9 million over the next several years, but commissioners are looking at the options.

In the meantime, homeowners in the new high-risk zones and with federal mortgages will need federal flood insurance by a Dec. 20 deadline.

"They should get flood insurance now, don't wait till Dec. 20 because its 30 days to phase in, and they'll get the discount rate now and increases gradually over time," Wise said.

And if you're uncertain about where your home's risk is under the FEMA map, Robert Norberg of Arden Insurance in Lantana has this advice.

"I would tell everybody out there when they're thinking about flood [insurance], talk to your agent," Norberg said.