On March 19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed official notices announcing the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (pFIRM) 90-day appeal period starting on April 2, 2015.  The 90-day appeal period is the time period during which property owners and/or local government entities can file appeals regarding the pFIRM flood hazard boundaries.

 

Included with the certified notices were several FEMA Fact Sheets explaining most of the important topics associated with the appeal period.  Among these, the document entitled Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps is of vital importance and should be reviewed accordingly.  The FEMA requirements for an appeal are stringent and include submissions of relevant technical/scientific data supporting the appeal.  All analyses and data submitted in support of an appeal must be certified by a Registered Professional Engineer or Licensed Land Surveyor, as appropriate.

 

FEMA Region II has also made available a new Preliminary Flood Map Feedback Portal where appeals can be submitted online (http://www.region2coastal.com/appeal).

 

At the conclusion of the appeals period, the pFIRMS will become effective, representing the basis for determining base flood elevations and flood insurance rates.  Once effective, each municipality must adopt the new flood zone boundaries in order to participate in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Failure to adopt the new flood zones will put the community at risk in several different ways including the ability to receive federal disaster assistance for areas damaged by a flood.

 

It is important to note that individual property owners and/or developers cannot make an appeal to FEMA on their own.  The municipality must publicly designate an agency or individual to submit all appeals to FEMA on their behalf.

 

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact FEMA at the following numbers:

 

For Coastal Flood Study and Mapping Questions: 1-877-336-2627

 

For Flood Insurance Questions: 1-800-427-4661

 

For Disaster Resilient Building/Building Requirement questions:

1-866-927-2104

 

For general information, please visit FEMA’s Region 2 website atwww.region2coastal.com.  You can also find What is My BFE Tool at the FEMA Region 2 website under the View Flood Hazard Info tab.

 

Lastly, the Hudson County Division of Planning  has developed several tools to help local officials and residents understand the Flood Insurance Rate Maps and what they may mean for any given location.  These tools can be found athttp://hudsoncogis.maps.arcgis.com/home/.  The Hudson County FIRM Viewer applications allow users to compare and contrast changes in the Effective FIRM’s and the Preliminary FIRM’s that are currently under review as well as understand how a Base Flood Elevation may translate into flood depths.

 

The Hudson County Division of Planning will be following up with each municipality shortly in order to discuss possible next steps and how each municipality can aid their residents during this period.

 

If you have any  additional questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to contact Jason Bottcher, GIS Specialist/Planner, County of Hudson, atjbottcher@hcnj.us or 201-217-5137, Extension 2.

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