Flood maps could affect homeownersPublished 6:26pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011
On July 18, updated FEMA flood maps will go into effect for Tallapoosa County, which may force some homeowners on Lake Martin to either buy flood insurance or get an exemption certificate from FEMA.
When the maps are released, anyone who has land that touches water will be in the flood plain. If the homeowner also has a mortgage or credit line, mortgage companies could deem that home as flood prone and require flood insurance.
FEMA offers flood insurance at a more manageable rate than commercial insurance companies for those who choose to purchase flood insurance.
To avoid buying flood insurance, homeowners can go through a surveyor to obtain an elevation certificate, which determines the elevation of the lowest finished floor of a home. If it’s proven a home is above 492 feet mean sea level, FEMA can waive the flood insurance requirement.
Ken Meredith, state coordinator for the national flood insurance program, said the new maps will mainly affect those who fall into one of the following categories:
n A person who is purchasing a home in a flood plain area;
n A person who is refinancing a home in a flood plain area;
n A person who extends a loan on a home in a flood plain area;
n A person who increases a loan (second mortgage, credit line, etc.) on a home in a flood plain area.
Anyone who does not have a mortgage is not susceptible to the new guidelines. Meredith said that while some current homeowners could receive a notice from mortgage companies that requires flood insurance, people who are caught on one of those four tripwires are the ones who will be mainly affected.
“(Current homeowners) don’t have to do anything,” Meredith said. “It’s mostly only going to impact people if they’re in a situation where one of those four things happen.
“These laws have been in place since 1968, but they’ve been amended to put some teeth in them. We started the revision process a couple of years ago, and though we had to do some shucking and diving at first, once everyone understood what was going on, everything was alright.”
The new maps have already been released for Coosa and Elmore Counties, and Meredith said the change has gone smoothly.
Meredith said not to worry if you get a notice from the mortgage company.
“If you get a 45-day letter from the lender, don’t panic,” Meredith said. “I would just buy the flood insurance from FEMA. Then, if you don’t already have it, get an elevation certificate. If you don’t need the insurance after that, you can get a full refund.
“This is about the relationship between the home purchaser and the lender. The lender determines whether the insurance is necessary.”
Information provided by the Lake Martin Home Owners and Boat Owners Association was used in this story. For more FEMA flood insurance information or for an exemption application, visit lakemartin.org.