New flood map unveiled

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Clovis unveiled a new and smaller flood hazard map, the next step in what could mean lower insurance rates for some homeowners.

The map presented Wednesday at a public works committee meeting will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for final consideration.

The city participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which offers federally-backed flood insurance in exchange for municipalities adopting ordinances meant to reduce flood damage.

Part of the process is a flood hazard map, which identifies areas of a municipality that would be most affected by a flood, and thus have higher insurance premiums.

The city hired Camp, Dresser and McKee of Albuquerque last year after FEMA came out with its floodplain maps, to be implemented in August.

City officials said FEMA did not consider millions in infrastructure improvements to reduce the possibility of flood damage, thus shrinking the map and reducing the number of homeowners affected.

“A lot’s changed since then, a lot of improvements have been made,” said Jim Keith, an engineer with CDM. “That’s the impetus for this study.”

Flood maps are posted at fema.gov.

A study by the city’s consultants incorporated a simulation of what would happen in the city in the event of a “100-year flood,” defined as 24 consecutive hours of rain over 28 square miles.

The results, Keith said, found that while some areas received more water than in FEMA’s map, there was an overall reduction of 5 percent of the 100-year floodplain.

Those areas fall in high-risk zones, defined as areas with a 1 percent chance annually of a flood — which translates to a 26 percent chance of flooding over a 30-year mortgage.

The application will be submitted in April, Keith said.

FEMA must acknowledge receipt within 30 days, but can take six to nine months to review the application.

City Engineer Justin Howalt said he has been in contact with FEMA and is hopeful for quick action.

He said FEMA knows of the city’s appeal, and it would likely choose to accept the adjustments before August instead of accepting them afterwards and repeating the entire implementation process.