Preliminary Maps are Now Available for Review
Sections of southwestern Santa Rosa, have recently been mapped within the new preliminary flood hazard zones recently developed for Santa Rosa by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These maps represent an important step towards increasing public safety by better equipping residents and property owners to make decisions about protecting themselves and their properties.
With these maps, residents and businesses have up-to-date, reliable, Internet accessible information about their flood risk on a property-by-property basis. Community planners, engineers, builders and others will be better able to make important determinations about where and how new structures and developments are built.
The maps are considered preliminary throughout a Public Appeal Period which runs through November 3, 2011. During this appeal period residents may submit appeals and protests if they disagree with the maps and believe an error has been made. Property owners who want to appeal are required to submit the scientific or technical data intended to negate or contradict FEMA’s findings to Santa Rosa’s Chief Building Official, also the City Flood Plain Administrator. Click here for more specific information about protests and appeals.
At the end of the Appeal Period, the City will evaluate all appeals and submit our findings to FEMA. Once FEMA reviews all appeals and protests and incorporates any needed map changes, they will issue a Letter of Final Determination. Six months later, the maps will be adopted and become effective, as will any new flood insurance requirements. However, please be aware that starting immediately, the City intends to use these flood hazard maps to help determine requirements for construction and development.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the new flood maps?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently developed new flood maps which show preliminary flood hazard zones for southwestern Santa Rosa within the Naval, Roseland and Colgan Creek watersheds. These maps indicate the risk for flooding within the Naval, Roseland and Colgan Creek watersheds, areas which had never been studied or mapped. The new maps will provide detailed, reliable and current data on the flood hazards in these areas.
More specifically, what is a Flood Hazard Map?
The new preliminary flood maps are formally referred to as Flood hazard maps and are also called “Flood Insurance Rate Maps” or “FIRMs”. These are used to determine the flood risk to your home or business. The low- and moderate-risk zones are represented by the letter “X” or an “X” that is shaded. The inland high-risk zones are considered “Special Flood Hazard Areas” and are labeled with designations such as “A”, “AE”, “AO” or “AH”.
How were the new flood hazard maps developed and what do they mean?
The new flood hazard zones were developed by FEMA through a comprehensive technical evaluation as to how Naval, Roseland and Colgan Creeks would function during intense rain events, more specifically, the 100- and 500-year storm events. To clarify what is meant by the term “100-year flood”, it is the flood elevation that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year; it is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. The likelihood of a flood occurring within a 100-year stretch of time is very high, but there’s no way to predict when the next flood will occur – or the one after that.
Flood hazard ratings for properties within the Naval, Roseland and Colgan Creek watersheds include areas of high, moderate or low flood risk. The new maps also serve as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). It should be noted that flood hazard risk designations may trigger the requirement for flood insurance.
What are the benefits of the new Flood Hazard Maps?
The maps will benefit numerous groups of people in different ways:
Home and business owners will have the ability to make better financial decisions about protecting their properties.
Community planners and local officials will gain a greater understanding of the flood hazards and risks that affect Santa Rosa and can therefore improve local planning activities.
Builders and developers will have access to more detailed information for making decisions on where to build and how construction may affect local flood hazard areas.
Insurance agents, insurance companies, and lending institutions will have easy on-line access to updates and upcoming changes in order to serve their customers and community more efficiently.
The result: a better picture of the areas most likely to be impacted by flooding and a better foundation from which to make key decisions.
How do I determine if my property is located in this area?
The new preliminary maps are available for public review. Click this link to the City Interactive GIS Map Site. Once there select the FEMA Prelim Flood layer listed under “Miscellaneous Layers” on left side of the site. Use the zoom and pan tools to find your property. The FIND tool represented by a binocular icon, lets you enter a specific property address.
How will the new flood hazard maps affect me?
Some properties in the neighborhoods that adjoin Naval, Roseland and Colgan Creeks within southwestern Santa Rosa will be affected by these map changes. And, there will be many properties that are not affected.
If the new maps – once adopted – indicate that the building on your property is within an AE zone and now designated at a high risk for flooding, you will be required to purchase a flood policy if you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. If you do not have a mortgage, it is still recommended that you purchase flood insurance. Over the life of a 30-year loan, there is about a 3 times greater chance of having a flood in your home than having a fire. And, most homeowners’ insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding.
How might the new flood maps affect me financially?
When the new maps are officially adopted, if your structure is mapped into a high-risk area and you have a mortgage with a federally regulated lender, you will need to purchase flood insurance. If your property is mapped into a low- or moderate-risk area, you are not required to purchase or maintain insurance, but are strongly encouraged to do so. The cost of properly protecting your home and contents from flood damage is far less expensive than the cost to repair or replace it after a flood.
Through the National Flood Insurance Program, coverage can often be obtained at significant savings. According to FEMA’s literature, the average cost for a flood insurance policy is around $500 per year. Further, homeowners may qualify for a preferred Risk Policy that covers both a structure and its contents for as little as $112 per year. Coverage for renters starts at just $39 a year. Talk to your insurance agent to determine the appropriate level of protection you need and the money savings options that are available. For more information on flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov.
Why were there no flood zones in the southwest area before now?
FEMA has not determined that there are flood hazards now that did not exist before. This is the first detailed mapping effort in Sonoma County by FEMA since the 1970’s. The southwest area was more rural with larger lots and fewer homes at the time of the first mapping effort. FEMA designated the southwest area as Zone D, “flood hazard undetermined”, on the original Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) published in the 1980’s. The only change by FEMA since then was to change the background of the FIRM to aerial photos.
What if my home or business is mapped into a high-risk area but I believe the designation is in error?
Flood map designations are always based on the best data available to engineers and local officials at the time areas at surveyed and assessed. Every effort is made to ensure that the maps reflect the most accurate and reliable information about the flood risk for all properties.
Currently, the maps are still known as preliminary and a Public Appeal Period will run through November 3, 2011. This is a time when residents may submit appeals and protests if they disagree with the maps and believe an error has been made. Property owners who want to appeal are required to submit the scientific or technical data intended to negate or contradict FEMA’s findings to Santa Rosa’s Chief Building Official, also the City Flood Plain Administrator. Please click here for more specific information about protests and appeals.
The mailing address for Santa Rosa’s Flood Plain Administrator is:
100 Santa Rosa Avenue, Room 3, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
At the end of the Appeal Period, the City will evaluate all appeals and submit our findings to FEMA. Once FEMA reviews all appeals and protests and incorporates any needed map changes, they will issue a Letter of Final Determination. Six months later, the maps will be adopted and become effective, as will any new flood insurance requirements.