FEMA Flood Hazard Maps

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has updated its flood hazard maps for Hennepin County, which includes areas of Plymouth, effective Nov. 4, 2016.

The updated maps are the result of a multiyear FEMA project to re-evaluate flood risks in the county, replacing the maps that had been adopted in 2004.

Lenders may require flood insurance within 45 days
Property owners with a mortgage or secured loan from a federally regulated or insured lender (this includes most loans) where the principle structure is within the floodplain are required by federal law to carry flood insurance.

When updated maps become effective, Nov. 4, 2016, most lenders check their loans and send a letter to all properties in the floodplain (and often to those close to it) to notify them that they must purchase flood insurance within 45 days. If a policy is not purchased within this time period, the lender may “force place” a policy, which is typically much more expensive.

The City of Plymouth encourages property owners with any kind of risk for flood damage to purchase flood insurance, whether they’re in or out of the floodplain.

For information about flood insurance, property owners should contact their insurance agent or browse the agents on FEMA’s flood insurance website, floodsmart.gov. 

Addresses inadvertently included in the floodplain may appeal
There are often scenarios where the boundaries of the floodplain do not accurately reflect the true topographic characteristics of a site. In much of Plymouth, the boundaries of the floodplain have not been updated with better elevation information since they were originally mapped in the early 1980s. This newest map update digitized these areas – making them easier for everyone to view.

Property owners who believe their buildings or property are higher than the actual flood elevation may appeal through a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). Traditionally, a LOMA involves hiring a surveyor to verify the lowest ground touching the structure, deck or stairs is above the 100-year flood elevation.

Under the right circumstances, two other types of streamlined methods may be pursued in lieu of a field survey:

  • Letter of Map Amendments using updated elevation data would be used when contour elevations can verify that a structure is above the 100-year flood elevation.
  • Letter of Map Amendment – Out as Shown (LOMA-OAS) would be used when a flood map overlaid on top of an aerial photo plainly shows that a structure is completely out of the floodplain.

For those that qualify for either of the two streamlined methods described above, the city can assist in obtaining a map that may be used in lieu of a field survey.

For more information on the process of submitting a LOMA, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.

Mitigating flood risk and reducing premiums
Property owners whose home/property is low and prefer to avoid the risk of removing the property from the floodplain may apply for a “preferred risk” floodplain policy if the home or structures are less likely to flood due to natural elevation, fill, floodproofing, etc. Agents listed on FEMA’s flood insurance website may be able to help determine the difference between a preferred risk policy and a standard policy. 

Elevating, retrofitting, or floodproofing a structure may also help to reduce both risk and insurance premiums.

Properties that previously received a LOMA from FEMA
Most previously approved LOMAs will be revalidated automatically and FEMA will send the city notification when this process is complete. Property owners may submit a copy of the FEMA letter to the bank as proof that they do not need to purchase flood insurance.

For more information, contact the Plymouth Planning Division at 763-509-5450 or planning@plymouthmn.gov.