Augusta County to explore legal options on FEMA maps

VERONA — With flood insurance for nearly 300 properties in Augusta County hanging in the balance, the Board of Supervisors delayed a decision on adopting new maps in the Sherando area to determine which properties are likely flood.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency requires the county to accept by Monday the agency’s flood plain maps for the Back Creek area to keep insurance for properties throughout Augusta that are part of the federal program.

FEMA’s flood plain maps are important because most landowners with property inside flood plains must pay for federal flood insurance.

Supervisors voted Wednesday to explore legal options in an attempt to gain time to contest map changes in Back Creek that would move dozens of properties out of designated flood plain areas and place others inside them.

FEMA expects the county to adopt the new maps for Back Creek by Monday or the entire county would be ineligible to participate in the federal flood insurance program. About 280 properties in Augusta are covered under the federal flood insurance program.

The county had asked FEMA for a one-year extension to study the area, but the agency balked, supervisors said at Wednesday’s regular meeting.

Board Chairman Jeremy Shifflett last month wrote a letter to FEMA asking for a one-year extension on adopting the federal agency’s revised map that determines which areas are in 100-year flood plains.

When FEMA sent Augusta County its revised map last August, the county didn’t get a 90-day appeals period where by local government officials or individuals could dispute the flood-plain mapping. Supervisors learned of the missed appeals chance only last month, Shifflett wrote.

However, supervisors tabled the vote and decided that the area needed further study to ensure accurate flood-plain maps, Shifflett wrote.

The chairman asked for time to have a study done while maintaining county homeowners’ eligibility for flood insurance.

Places in 100-year flood plains are determined by statistics to be prone to at least one major flood every century.

Federal law requires that properties within the plains that have federally backed mortgages participate in a government-run flood insurance program that helps cover damages when they’re over-run with water.

Suspension from the program for failure to adopt FEMA’s maps would make all of Augusta ineligible for some disaster relief funds from floods, county officials said.


About Rockbridge County Emergency Management

I am currently the Emergency Management Coordinator for Rockbridge County, VA; a position that I have held since May 2006. I have 25 years in the fire service having served in a variety of leadership positions during my career. Spent 18 years in public education at the secondary level.
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