On June 30, 2016, the North Carolina Flood Risk Information System released the first version of new preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (or FIRMs) for Dare County.
The FIRMs are updated every 10 years or so, and the last update for the county was in 2006.
Traditionally, the process to convert to new FIRMs takes roughly 18-24 months, as a series of procedures must be completed before the new maps can be adopted. This includes a 90-day public comment and appeal period, a subsequent review by FEMA to make changes to the maps as needed, and – eventually – a letter of final determination that cements the maps, and gives Dare County an effective date of implementation approximately six months after the letter is issued.
It should be noted that many property owners throughout Dare County have been anticipating the implementation of the new flood maps, and for good reason.
When initially introduced to the Dare County Board of Commissioners at a meeting in June of 2016, Steve Garrett of the Flood Plain Mapping Program and Dare County Planning Director Donna Creef both confirmed that many homeowners would benefit from the updated FIRMs.
“The good news is that a lot of properties are coming out of the flood zones,” said Creef at the 2016 meeting.
Garrett reported at the time that unincorporated Dare County, which includes Hatteras Island, had 1,800 structures in the high-risk VE category, and that number would be reduced to only 124. The county had almost 13,000 structures in the AE zone, and that would come down to about 8,500. The others would move, perhaps into the X zone.
Two new zones are also included in the new maps — AH, which applies to the area between the highways that floods in Kitty Hawk, and AO, which applies to some areas that are subject to shallow flooding, and which includes roughly 893 structures countywide.
(If you haven’t seen if and how your property is affected, you can still check it out via the thoroughly interactive website found here: https://fris.nc.gov/fris/.)
So the ball to adopt the new maps has been rolling for some time, but the process is still ongoing roughly 2.5 years after the maps were introduced. So what’s the hold up, and what’s being done? Here’s a closer look at where we are, and the steps the county is taking to move us forward.