PB County pushes for cheaper flood insurance

County, cities appeal proposed flood maps, citing study by South Water Management District

Aug.August 16, 2015 12:00 PM

Example of South Florida coastal flooding

Thousands of property owners in central Palm Beach County could qualify for lower flood insurance rates if the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) alters its maps highlighting areas prone to flooding.

The South Florida Water Management District has completed a study showing that peak elevations of water following an unusually strong storm are lower than FEMA estimates for areas along the C-51 canal, which spans the mid-section of Palm Beach County from the Lake Worth Lagoon to Lake Okeechobee.

“In a couple of areas, it’s as much as a foot difference in water elevation levels. in other areas, it’s six inches,” Palm Beach County water resources manager Ken Todd told the Sun Sentinel.

Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach and several other cities in the county have formally appealed the proposed FEMA flood maps, citing the findings of the South Florida Water Management District. Proposed revisions to the FEMA maps were submitted in April.

Todd said if FEMA approves the map revisions, thousands of properties would have a lower official risk of flooding and property owners collectively would save “millions” of dollars through lower flood insurance premiums.

FEMA reported in 2014 that C-51 canal flooding in a severe storm would affect West Palm Beach as well as Cloud Lake, Wellington, Royal Palm Beach, Palm Springs, Loxahatchee Groves, Lake Worth, Lake Clarke Shores, Haverhill, Greenacres and Glen Ridge, along with unincorporated areas of central Palm Beach County.

While the appeals process advances, premiums for flood insurance in Palm Beach County remain based on a federal flood-zone map that insurers have used since the 1980s. [Sun Sentinel] – Mike Seemuth

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