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FEMA flood maps: How to check if you're in it

Posted at 7:54 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 12:28:08-04

Thousands of properties in Palm Beach County that weren't in a flood zone previously will now be in one come October.  That's when the new FEMA flood map will take effect.

That also means many are going to have to buy costly flood insurance. 

"They’ve really expanded some of the areas," said Douglas Rill, a real estate agent with Century 21. 

He said many people in the area are going to be surprised when they find out how the changes will affect them. 

“It’ll be like, when someone gets their renewal they’ll be like: Oh my gosh! What happened to my policy? I wasn’t in a flood zone now I am in one," Rill said. 

For many that will mean they will have no choice but to buy flood insurance. 

“So if you don’t have it, they can foreclose on your house because you don’t have it," Rill said. 

Depending on which flood zone type you're in (A, B or C) your premium will be different. 

Dolores Glass with Wright Flood Insurance explained that's not the only factor. 

“They look at the construction of your home," Glass said. "Does your home have any mitigating factors? Like is it raised on a crawl space?”

These new flood maps do not just impact properties close to the ocean. 

“I think a lot of the biggest changes are in western and central counties," said Doug Wise with the Palm Beach County Building Division. 

That's because FEMA is including the risk of the Herbert Hoover Dike failing in their new maps. 

Rill said you should inform yourself now and not wait until October. 

“You want to make sure that they’ve got you classified you correctly," Rill said. “You may want to have a survey done and get an elevation.”

You can call the county to find out if you're in a flood zone at 561-233-5374. You can also look at up online.

Here is how to use the map:

1) Enter your address

2) Click on the icon all the way on the left

3) Open "Commonly Used Layers"

4) Click on "Flood Zone Map" to see current flood zones

5) Click on "Proposed Flood Zone" to see the proposed changes 

The maps are still preliminary. You can get your own survey done and try to change the map before it takes effect in October.