Insurance costs RISE with flood map changes

Changes to existing Juneau-area flood zones will mean 160 of Juneau’s waterfront property owners may have a more difficult time financing a home because they have to buy flood insurance.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires municipalities to update flood maps every 10 to 15 years.

“And we are at the point now,” said CBJ Planner Eric Feldt.

The 2010 draft map was presented to City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission Tuesday night. Flood-zone boundary changes moved hundreds of parcels into flood insurance zones.

For three decades Juneau has participated in the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides free flood-insurance maps and public flood insurance as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The new maps will be more detailed and accurate. The current map design, dating from 1981, is hand-drawn with minimum information. A draft CBJ flood map from 2010 shows much more detail about flood zones and can be used as an overlay on the city’s street maps.

Property owners and renters can acquire flood insurance — it is not voluntary and is required for certain home loans.

“Flood insurance is expensive,” Feldt said.

Auke Bay coastal property owners within the map’s draft zone change can expect to pay more for their flood insurance, Feldt said. Insurance companies take ocean wave action into account when pricing flood insurance. Some property owners slipped off the list.

In the Mendenhall Valley, 35 homes and five commercial building were removed from the 100-year flood zone.

Before the city can fully utilize the new map, CBJ Planner Greg Chaney said the city must also change its Title 49 zoning ordinance and debate the requirement of foundation pilings in velocity flood zones.

Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com

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