PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - FEMA released it’s first updated flood map for Palm Beach County in 30 years and county officials say the changes will impact many homeowners dramatically.
“It’s a huge deal,” Doug Wise with the Palm Beach County Planning and Zoning Department said. “Thousands of properties are affected.”
Wise said many homeowners have no idea this is about to go into affect. FEMA said officials have until October to implement the rules. That means, come October, many homeowners might suddenly be forced to buy federally-backed flood insurance of their property.
“Some banks won’t lend money on properties in flood zones,” Wise said.
Rising sea levels have many new areas now being labeled as flood zones.
“Everyone on the Florida coast should be concerned about that,” Robert Brown with the City of West Palm Beach Building Division said. “It’s a real concern.”
Wise said it’s not just coastal areas that are impacted but also central ones where FEMA is concerned that the Herbert Hoover Dike might fail.
The maps are just preliminary, making it hard for officials to plan and work with customers.
Wise and his team have been working on getting more accurate data for the area and fight back when they feel the FEMA map is not showcasing the flood risk correctly.
While the preliminary maps are online, Wise encourages everyone to call the county to check if their property is now in a flood zone. The number: 561-233-5374.
It also means that new buildings will have to adhere to new standards. Officially, the changes won’t go into effect until October but Wise said you should not wait to make those changes.
“The problem is, when your building is complete, the new building codes go into effect and now you have a non-conforming structure,” Wise said.
West Palm Beach officials also erred on the side of caution.
“The higher standard you enforce, the lower the flood insurance,” Brown said.