The September flood significantly changed the topography of the land and in some cases even the location of the Big Thompson river. The physical floodplain that exists today is much different than what is shown on the effective FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
The County is preparing to adopt an amendment to the Land Use Code in the newly adopted Disaster Re-Build Program. The ordinance will allow the County Flood Plain Administrator to utilize ‘best available information’ rather than FEMA maps. This means that owners wishing to rebuild homes damaged by the flood will likely be required to elevate new construction building in areas that are now at risk, but not shown on the FEMA maps.
County staff says that FEMA is likely to remap the floodplains in these areas and the new topography and new hydrology will likely show an increased floodplain compared to the maps that are in effect today. Staff hopes that the requirement to elevate the building based on best available data today will reduce the chance that this construction will be considered non-conforming when FEMA’s new maps are completed.
Staff also noted that the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform legislation –which NAR is trying to delay — would result in enormous increases in flood insurance policy prices for homeowners whose properties sit below the base flood elevation. Staff says it will greatly benefit the property owner to elevate their buildings now rather than after the maps are redrawn.
Examples of ‘best available data’ would be the effective FIRM map, the high water mark of the flood, depth of the profile compared to the existing elevation. It is assumed that staff will eventually receive approximate floodplain limits based on the new topography. As time goes on, they hope to gather better and more accurate data to help homeowners build at an appropriate elevation. This item is scheduled for a hearing with the Board of County Commissioners and the Planning Commission at 6 pm on Dec. 11.