New flood maps being adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are favorable for Glynn County and could lead to reductions in flood insurance premiums, city and county officials say.
A letter telling the county FEMA was adopting a new set of finalized maps was received Wednesday, according to County Engineer Paul Andrews.
“What that means to the citizens of Glynn County is the flood zone of your property may change, it may go up or may go down,” Andrews said.
County spokeswoman Kathryn Downs said most locations in the county are in a more favorable designation on the flood map.
This could be a very good thing for the county, Glynn County Commissioner and insurance agent Bob Coleman said.
“I think this is going to be a super good thing from an insurance agent standpoint,” Coleman said. “They haven’t done this in a while. The technology they’re using now is so much more accurate. I think it will be a lot more accurate and fair (than what was used to create the previous flood map).”
For the new map, FEMA is using LiDar, Light detection and ranging. It is a technology that measures the elevation of the ground relative to sea level, usually from an aircraft or satellite.
Coleman has a number of customers who are either on the line between two flood zones or right on the edge of a lower flood zone, or are designated as being higher in elevation, meaning the more detailed map could reduce their premiums.
While he didn’t say if the new flood maps would directly impact the city’s Community Rating System rating, City Attorney Brian Corry said they would “allow for a potential reduction in the amount of flood insurance premiums.”
Currently, Brunswick and the county’s CRS ratings are 9 and 7 out of 10, respectively. These ratings inform insurance agencies where premiums should be set.
One issue with the current flood map is the way the zones are laid out, Coleman said. In some cases, people he insures have buildings sitting on a diving line between two zones, and the insuring agency always charge their premiums based on the lower zone.
“I think it’s going to help to define the zones much better and not have these zone lines running through the middle of somebody’s house or commercial building,” Coleman said.
The CRS ratings are issued for flood risk, and the lower the number the smaller the risk of flooding and the higher the percentage discount on flood insurance premiums.
A number of things can be done to lower the number including passing regulations on development in special flood hazard areas, which much of Glynn County is classified as, and maintaining extensive records and certifications of structures built in these areas.
Exactly how the new map will impact premiums likely won’t be known until the maps actually take effect on Jan. 5, 2018.
“We probably won’t know until that actually starts taking effect and they apply them to quotes,” Coleman said. “I think it’s going to be a wait and see thing. It was certainly done to improve the situation, but as an insurance agent they haven’t notified us (of changes to flood insurance premiums).”