Residents Upset with New FEMA Flood Maps

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

Keith Haley has lived in his Bellevue home for 47 years without any threats from the creek across the street. Now, he has a letter saying he's in a flood zone.

"All these years I've never had any problems with Battle Creek River coming close to my door step," said Keith Haley, a Bellevue resident.

In December, Haley's bank told him he has 45 days to get flood insurance.

"I have to pay an additional $800 toward my mortgage with a $5,000 deductable and your just as they say, SOL," said Haley.

Haley is one of thousands who now needs insurance. In 2003, the national flood insurance program began a nationwide update of its flood maps.

"In Michigan, the maps were 20 to 25 years old," said Bruce Menerey an environmental engineer from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The old map was roughly estimated in the 1970's. Engineers drew the new flood zone using topography maps that show where water would likely flow based on and land elevation.

"If you were to look at a house in the flood plain. Over the life of a mortgage, there's a 26 percent chance that house being flooded," said Menerey.

Residents who disagree with the new map, do have an option.

"They can write a letter of map ammendment. If the property owner can provide information to show that they are above the flood plain elevation. FEMA would be able to change the map," said Menerey.

"Then I have to pay for a professional surveyor to come out here. It could cost anywhere from $300 to $3,000," said Haley.

And there is no guarrantee FEMA would agree to the appeal. Haley and his neighbors are now writing to their Congressman for help.


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