The newly mapped Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood plain has caused an outcry among residents surrounding the Frank and Poet Drain.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), that went into effect in February, have increased in size significantly and include more properties than ever before.
Residents added to the flood plain received letters from their mortgage companies telling them they must buy flood insurance or insurance would be purchased for them at residents' own expense.
Additional insurance costs could be a high as $100 per month according to Terry Avery, a resident who has recently been added to the flood plain.
"This additional cost could be enough to cause some property owners to abandon their homes," Avery said at last Monday's Trenton City Council meeting.
Residents were given a deadline of 40 days to purchase flood insurance after receiving the letter and City Engineer William Hogan said waiting too long could be far more costly than purchasing insurance on their own.
"If they impose the forced insurance on you it is at a much higher cost than what you could obtain on your own," Hogan said.
Though Hogan said he isn't sure just how many homes were affected by the new FIRMs, he said he and his department are working hard to find that out.
Hogan added there were previously about 180 homes in the flood plain and now the number is significantly larger.
Hogan said residents newly affected by the FIRMs could do two things after receiving a letter:
- Purchase insurance on your own. Don't wait and have it imposed upon you. Find the best rate possible in order to save a maximum amount of money.
- Call your mortgage company and ask if challenging the new FIRMs can help you avoid keeping the insurance, indefinitely. Residents can challenge the new flood plain by hiring a surveyor and finding out if the property's elevation is resistant to flooding. If the elevation number is high enough, residents may not need to buy additional insurance. However, mortgage companies could still impose flood insurance upon residents even after successfully proving the property has a high enough elevation to avoid flooding.
Residents who succesfully challenge the new FIRMs and have already purchased insurance may be entitled to a refund according to Hogan.
The flood plain near Harrison Avenue usually fills up about five to six times per year on average according to Hogan. When flooded, and become inaccessible to residents.
Hogan said residents who received a letter could purchase insurance during a two-year grace period at a greatly reduced rate because they had not previously been in the flood plain.
Only residents who still owe on their mortgages and whose homes are now in the new FIRMs flood plain surrounding the Frank and Poet Drain must buy flood insurance.
Homeowners who do not have mortgages did not receive letters and are not being forced to purchase additional insurance. Additionally, homeowners who were already in the flood plain and already have flood insurance are not being forced to purchase additional insurance.
Hogan said he put together a packet of information regarding the FIRMs available at the Trenton Department of Engineering.
An extensive list of insurance providers can be found in the Trenton Patch directory.
To find out if your house is in the new FEMA FIRMs flood plain go to the FEMA Map Service Center website and enter your address.
For more information call or visit the Trenton Department of Engineering, 734-675-8251, located on the second floor of .