Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can you rebuild your home if you live in a flood zone?

With the expansion of flood zones by FEMA starting back around 2008 for some areas and continuing even today, you may get a rude surprise: You're now in a flood zone.

Yup. Lived in the house 30+ years, now it's in a flood zone. It's happen all over the country. Some people, cities, and counties have fought it. They have hired surveyors and had a full survey and elevation certificate done, got all the paperwork from FEMA and sent it all in. Some have gotten out of the flood zone, others have not but were able to get a reduction in their yearly insurance based on the elevation certificate. Sadly others had their insurance cost increased based on the elevation certificate.

Now to add insult to injury, there is a question if your home will be rebuilt if a flood happens. Several areas are looking at buying out homeowners that are in flood prone areas or requiring homeowners to raise their home higher above ground.

There are 2 issues at work here. One, FEMA seems to have figured out that we are having more severe weather patterns which leads to more severe flooding more often. There is no way they can charge enough money to keep disaster funds high enough to cover everyone affected. So the logical step is to start reducing the number of properties covered, aka don't pay to rebuild homes in certain high risk flood areas. (See NY Times article) Second, FEMA is changing how they define the "floor above ground level". This caused some grief for homeowners with basements in super storm Sandy's path. If we raise up the property so that all of the  "living area" is above ground level, we reduce the risk of it flooding.

If you live in a flood area, the best advice I can give is to check and make sure that your flood insurance is enough to rebuild your home currently, understanding that due to government action you may not be able to rebuild.

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