View Full Version : Flood zone

09-24-2004, 06:21 AM
If you remember correctly we just bought a new house. Before we got this house we were looking at another, but decided agaisn't it, because it was in the flood zone. With the recent rains we drove by and checked out the house and it had about a foot of water in the front yard, but was still a foot or so below the floor level. This made us feel better about our decission not to buy that house.

So yesterday we get a letter from our mortage company stating that they have re-evaluated their flood maps and have decided that we have to get flood insurance. :mad:

I don't mind the extra money we have to pay as much as what it does to the re-sale value of the house. We will fight this. It may require having a survey done and a lot of flood map reserch, but we will fight.


John Bell
09-24-2004, 06:42 AM
I've sucessfully fought, and won, the flood insurance requirement on this place. So it can be done. The issue was that FEMA had redrawn the maps, and the mortgage company had decided that the structure of our hous was in the flood plain. And perhaps it would have been, had the house been built on the natural grade. But it isn't -- there is enough fill under our slab to get us about 5 feet over the 100 year flood line. There is a chance that we could fall victim to a 1,000 (or 10,000) year event. That's a risk I'll assume. One thing that's worked in my favor is there was a new school built upstream in my drainage about three years ago. As part of the project, there was a large detention pond that has greatly reduced the rate and magnitude at which water rises in the creek adjoining my property. Before it was built, we weathered a 9 inch rain event and stayed dry. Last week's 5 inches from Ivan was no sweat.

Now, if we got 25 inches like I saw in middle Georgia in '94 I don't know what would happen. But I'm not going lose sleep worrying about 10,000 year floods such as that one. According to the geologists, I've got about equal odds of having a 7.0+ earthquake here.

09-24-2004, 06:47 AM
I just pulled the county's flood map and according to it we are not in the flood zone. I looked at the flood ways, the 100 year flood and the 500 year flood and none of them apply.


John Bell
09-24-2004, 06:56 AM
Just out of curiosity, what's the date on that letter? Is there a chance this is knee-jerk reaction to the severe flooding from Ivan last week?

It may be the bankers suffered large losses in the flooding (uninsured properties that were destroyed aren't good risks for having borrowers pay back what is owed) and they decided make the rest of the properties in their portfolio prove they weren't at risk. It sounds like you have a case.

09-24-2004, 08:03 AM
That is what FEMA thinks, that maybe due to the recent storms that they are trying to increase their flood coverage area.


High C
09-24-2004, 08:44 AM
Chad, as a practical matter, if there is significant new development taking place anywhere near your house, the flood situation could be rapidly changing. Every lot that gets filled, every road paved, pushes rain water elsewhere. I've seen it happen here, that old neighborhoods suddenly become flood prone after new neighborhoods are built 2 miles away.

Be very sure before you give up that flood protection.

Matt J.
09-24-2004, 08:49 AM
Chad, hire a surveyor. We do those often enough. It's usually not more than a few hundred bucks, (obviously that will vary with details), and often as not, it will do more harm than good. Just did one, and the house was "in the flood zone" but above the flood elevation, so no insurance required. You could be the same situation... if not, flood insurance is one of those things that you only need it when you need it... but that's NEED not a want, when things happen. Those storms you got were bad, but... you'll see worse in the future... I don't know if those storms even qualified as 100-year events.

So far, all areas I've seen reports from didn't have 100-year storm from rain alone... Obviously the areas directly hit from hurricane with surge and rain will come close if not hit the 100-year levels. Last year, for instance, Isabel put out area in the 100-year flooding level, but not the 500-year level, and that was strictly surge, not rain (would be damn hard to flood our neighborhood to that level with rain alone).

Anywho... sorry for the long response. I only know what I know ;) . Get a good survey.

John Bell
09-24-2004, 08:54 AM
If Chad (~800' msl) or I (1100' msl) get a flood from surge, it's time to stop laughing at the neighbor who was building a boat 300 cubits LOA out of gopher wood! ;)

[ 09-24-2004, 10:05 AM: Message edited by: John Bell ]

Matt J.
09-24-2004, 09:04 AM

I guess I'm saying a LOT of rain is required to make it a 100-year storm. OTOH, those Mississippi river floods in 93 (right?) were considered 500 year events... the Corps geniuses built the stupid levies for the 100-year event (I was gonna say damn levies, but...). The fact that data is so far insufficient to statistically model 100-year events and larger didn't stop 'em. Point is, flood insurance is pricey but oh so worth it when it's worth it.

High C
09-24-2004, 09:11 AM
In the last twenty five years, New Orleans has seen three official 100 year floods! :eek:

'Course, some doofus built the place below sea level! :D

Matt J.
09-24-2004, 09:22 AM
(First: OUCH! :eek: )

And that's the problem. It's all number magic (AKA guessing). While you all are more likely to get flooded, there shouldn't be 3 100-year floods in 25 years, although statistically possible. Eventually, the "100-year" flood will be reclassified downwards... More likely those events are only 25-year or 50-year events, densely clustered, and the 100-year flood will be a real whopper. So just think if those were bad, how much worse it can really get - a storm with (2, 3,10?) times the intensity and destruction... which is why paying for flood insurance is no waste of money. Chad's other house they didn't buy is in the floodplain, a bad storm comes through and it's not even flooded... when the storm comes that does flood it, it doesn't have to stop when it hits the intensity of the "100-year" event, it can keep on going (a la Mississippi 93).

09-24-2004, 09:39 AM
After looking at the flood map provided by the county GIS department, it appears that my house is 20' above the 100 year flood and 15' above the 500 year flood.


Matt J.
09-24-2004, 10:20 AM
Chad, that's great news...

Unfortunately, around here anyway, that doesn't relieve you of the requirement of having a licensed land surveyor complete the FEMA Flood Elevation Certificate to avoid providing your lender the security of insuring the property they own against flood. Hopefully it's different down in TN.

Good luck.

George Roberts
09-24-2004, 12:19 PM
cs ---

Your mortage company has the right to require any type of insurance they want. Often the insurance is required so that a packeage of mortages can be resold for a better price.

As I understand it, flood plain maps are there to inform prospective buyers of possible problems and to provide an insurance pool for areas where private insurers may be unwilling to provide insurance.

John Bell ---

You wrote:

" There is a chance that we could fall victim to a 1,000 (or 10,000) year event. That's a risk I'll assume."

After a flood how do you and your insurer determine if the flood is a 100 year flood with them assuming risk or a 1000 year flood with you assuming risk?

John Bell
09-24-2004, 12:32 PM
Actually George, it doesn't matter. I carry no flood insurance, so the risk is shared by both me and the lender. Their exposure is by how much I owe them, and mine is my equity. Right now, they've got a lot more exposure than I.

FWIW, it only came up on a re-fi. I convinced the underwriter in that case that it was not a requirement. I've since refinanced again, and the new lender didn't even give a peep about it. They got a survey that shows the structure outside of the 100 year flood line and that was good enough apparently.

In Chad's case, I wonder what his contract says about this. This seems like an after-the-fact demand. If he had known they would have required this, would he have purchased this house? Would he have used this lender? If the lender doesn't have the right to require this after-the-fact, then Chad could conceivably tell them to pound sand.

FWIW, a 100 year flood is defined as the water level that has 1% probability of reaching in any single year. Likewise a 500 year flood is a 0.2% chance, and 1,000 year flood is a 0.1% chance. If you get flooded it doesn't matter if it's a 2 year flood or the Genesis flood -- either you have coverage our you don't.

[ 09-24-2004, 01:38 PM: Message edited by: John Bell ]

High C
09-24-2004, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by Matt J.:
...there shouldn't be 3 100-year floods in 25 years...And that's my point about development and its impact on flooding. The risks are constantly changing, and those flood maps can get behind in a hurry in some cities.

Chad, I doubt if your mortgage company can require you to carry flood insurance if your property still falls within the original terms of the mortgage contract. Those terms cannot be changed by them after closing.

If you are sure that your house is not at risk, and that it was in compliance with the terms of the mortgage (regarding the need/non-need for flood insurance)at the time of closing, then they may be bluffing you in an attempt to make themselves feel better about a percieved exposure to risk.