They affect everything from personal safety to insurance rates. Now, Chesterfield residents want to know what new flood plain maps mean for them.
It has been almost 30 years since the county updated its flood plain maps. Since then, there have been significant advances in technology. With the update, conducted by FEMA, nearly complete, the question is just who is affected by this?
Like this creek in Midlothian, water flow and drainage patterns change slowly. When they do, flood plain maps need to be re-drawn. In Chesterfield, that last occurred in 1983.
This month, 6,500 residents received a letter letting them know at least part of their property is in a "special flood hazard area". Their houses, however, have been safe for a long time, according to the director of environmental engineering.
"We've had safety built in for years," said Dick McElfish.
Since most people who own properties in a flood plain already are aware of that, McElfish said the updated information becomes helpful if the land should ever be sold to someone else.
"That's the major example that we've found out over the years, when people call us and they're getting ready to sign on the dotted line and they say, ‘Oh, you need flood insurance,'" McElfish said.
While the flood plain lines may be updated, but they're not significantly changed. Some new creeks and streams have been added, McElfish said, but the vast majority of homeowners won't have to take any new action.
"It doesn't mean that you need to be concerned that you got the letter," he said.
In some cases, homeowners can now get a cheaper rate on their flood insurance, but it likely has to be done during the next six months. The county recommends checking with your insurance agent.
To learn more about the new flood plain map, including a way to see how close the lines come to your house, click here.
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