Hundreds of Central Texas residents could be forced to buy flood insurance or face stricter building regulations for new structures nearly three months after deadly flooding, according to new Federal Emergency Management Agency advisory maps made public Friday.
The maps, which face a yearlong review process, would dramatically expand flood plains along the banks of the Blanco River and tributary creeks, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
FEMA’s flood plain maps determine which property owners must buy flood insurance and how high they must build new construction in the areas hardest hit by deadly Memorial Day weekend flooding.
Future construction would be governed by the minimum height for the first floor of any new building. Building anything lower could lead to higher insurance premiums.
FEMA regularly updates flood plain maps around the country, and its revisions are sometimes met with opposition. New York City is battling the agency now over maps that were proposed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Wimberley City Administrator Don Ferguson said he will recommend the City Council vote to approve the maps in late September.
Ferguson said the city should act quickly to provide clarity for people who are making decisions about how to rebuild their homes.
“We’re as sensitive as anybody about private property rights, but we also have an obligation to work toward the public safety,” he told the newspaper.
Although the Memorial Day weekend flooding shattered records on the Blanco, meteorologists expect extreme weather events to become more frequent due to global warming, and the area called “flash flood alley” – the Texas Hill Country and the towns downstream of it – could see records fall more regularly as a result.
The Central Texas Council of Governments provides an online resource to searching FEMA flood maps, visit http://ctcog.org/fema-flood-maps-online/
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