The Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency has released updated, digital flood hazard maps for review and comment prior to their final adoption. The maps, known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, show the extent to which areas recently remapped in Liberty County and the municipalities of Allenhurst, Flemington, Hinesville, Midway, Riceboro and Walthourville, are at risk for flooding. Used to help determine flood insurance and building requirements, the new maps replace maps that were based on studies up to 10 years old.
Residents and business owners can use the maps to obtain reliable information about their flood risk on a property-by-property basis. The maps also provide flood zone and elevation data to help community planners, engineers, builders and others decide where and how new structures, developments, and remodeling projects should be built. The maps can be viewed online at www.GeorgiaDFIRM.com or in person at the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission office in the Liberty County Historic Courthouse in Hinesville.
"Flooding is an increasingly frequent and costly problem throughout this part of Georgia, and not just in high-risk areas," LCPC Executive Director Jeff Ricketson said. "Having more accurate and easily accessible maps is an important step in understanding the risk, so we can take steps to protect and insure against it."
The maps were developed by the Georgia EPD. The process included a multi-year review of the changes brought about by environmental, land use and other forces, use of aerial mapping and risk modeling techniques, and a pre-release review.
In reviewing the new maps, many property owners may find that their risk is higher or lower than they thought. If the risk for a property changes, flood insurance and building standards requirements can change as well.
An open house has been scheduled for 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday so residents can view the new maps, understand how their properties may be affected, review their options and learn more about financial and material steps to protect their investment. The staff of the LCPC is also available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday to address residents’ concerns about the flood maps. LCPC is on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse, 100 Main St., Hinesville, phone 912-408-2030.
The updated maps have not been officially adopted. Subsequent to the open house, there will be a 90-day public-comment period when property owners can submit appeals and comments if they can show that the maps are in error. Once all appeals and comments are addressed, the maps are expected to become effective next spring. At that time, the new flood insurance requirements will take effect.
While federal flood insurance requirements will not be based on the new maps until they take effect, the LCPC will use the preliminary information to manage development in floodplains.
For information about flood insurance, contact your insurance agent or visit www.FloodSmart.gov.