How do I Know if my Property is in a Flood Plain?

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My neighbor told me there have been changes in the flood plain and drainage maps for Prescott and that our property might possibly now be considered to be in the flood plain, how can I determine if we are in a flood plain.  Ed and Sally, Granite Oaks Prescott.

We own a business in Prescott and we recently received a letter from our lender indicating that after performing a yearly review of our property, we are considered to now be in a flood zone.  We are now impacted financially by having to pay flood insurance.  What is happening?    Mark and Tom, Prescott, AZ

I read an article in the Daily Courier in January talking about floodplain changes.  How do I know if my property is in a flood plain?  Gary, Prescott Valley, AZ

Do we have flood plain management in Prescott Valley?  Don and Darleen, Prescott Valley, AZ

Am I required to have flood plain insurance if I do not have a mortgage?  Sally, Chino Valley, AZ

We recently purchased a home in Prescott and the appraisal indicated our property was located in a flood plain.  The lender is requiring that we purchase flood insurance.  Can we opt out?  Roger and Mary, Prescott, AZ

These questions are extremely timely as Yavapai County Contractors Association is sponsoring a workshop breakfast event on Thursday morning, February 24th to discuss this issue. The breakfast event is free and will be held at The Hotel St. Michael starting at 7:30 am – 9:00 am.  If you are in a flood plain area, or don’t know if you are in a flood plain area, if you have questions about insurance and rates, if you want to know how to minimize your property exposure and how these changes impact you as a property owner and want to learn an overview of FEMA and the impact on Yavapai County, we would love to have you attend.  

Flood plain management is how a community such as Prescott Valley, Prescott, Chino Valley or any community in Yavapai County operates and takes preventative and/or corrective action for reducing flood damage. These preventative measures are in the form of federal regulations, building ordinances, zoning requirements and continual updates of FEMA maps though city and town engineers.  Communities adopt these preventative measures and enforce local ordinances to hopefully reduce building and/or structure loss due to floods.  Since 1993, no new construction is allowed to be built in any designated flood plain area in Prescott Valley.

Our communities have a series of flood plain maps which are considered to be the tool for determination of flood risk to properties.  FEMA recently updated the designated flood plain maps and updating the maps could be “beneficial to property owners paying insurance for things they didn’t need and others not paying for insurance for their own protection,” as Greg Toth, Drainage Engineer for the City of Prescott stated.  While Toth acknowledges that the updated study might take in areas that were previously not considered to be in the floodplain, he said, “my hope is that more (property) will come out than come in.”

Just because we live in Arizona, does not mean that we are free from annual flooding events.  Yavapai County is crossed by several rivers, many creeks and gulches that are extremely susceptible for flooding and these vents can cause significant property damage and loss of life.  We are susceptible to sudden and severe thunderstorms that can cause flash floods and drainage issues, another reason why it is critical to ensure that newly developed areas are stabilized and functional for flood control.

Flood plains are by definition susceptible to moderate flooding; however there are areas that are also considered to be susceptible to large-scale flooding as well.  These areas are called 100-year floods because the possibility of severe flooding typically will occur every 100 years.  FEMA maps out these areas to best determine if they are more prone to experiencing these 100-year floods and often discourage building in these areas.  The cost of insurance is affected by where the house or building is located within the flood plain.  Structures that are located in a higher risk area pay higher premiums.  Rule of thumb, premiums for flood insurance in a high risk area vs. non flood affected areas is generally 30-45% higher.

If you do not have a mortgage, then you are not required to purchase flood insurance.  However, if you refinance, or take out an equity loan, your lender will then require flood insurance if the property is deemed to be in a flood zone. 

If you have questions on whether or not your property is in a flood zone, depending on the jurisdiction where you live and/or operate a business, please contact the applicable individual representatives below.  These individuals from our community will be on hand at our Let’s Talk Breakfast on February 24th to answer your questions and give more particulars and facts about the FEMA changes. 

Prescott Valley    Ray Smith Flood Plain Administrator    928-759-3072
County            Charlie Cave, Flood Control District Cir.    928-771-3197
Prescott        Greg Toth, City Drainage Engineer        928-777-1140

We have briefly touched on information and the changes taking place concerning flood plains and FEMA changes in Yavapai County.  We hope that you will join us for breakfast and here additional detailed information about what is underway with these changes that can affect you.  In addition, Bill Weber from Weber’s Insurance will be on our panel to answer your insurance questions and concerns. 

Also, we would love to hear from you – What are you doing to go green?  Are you using fluorescent bulbs, did you get an energy audit? Have you replaced your toilets?  What “going green” measures have you taken and are these changes saving you money and making a difference?  We want to share your experiences with our readers.  How are you saving the planet?

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