ATLANTA – New flood insurance rate maps will soon go into effect in metro Atlanta for communities in the Upper Chattahoochee River Region, specifically in Cobb, Douglas, Forsyth, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Fulton counties.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources have been working with county and municipal governments over the last several years to incorporate the best available data into these flood maps. The ultimate goal of the maps is to protect property owners and communities by showing the extent of flood risk in their areas. Flood maps also help to determine flood insurance rating and building requirements.
Flood maps for Cobb, Douglas, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties will be effective on March 4, 2013; maps for DeKalb County will be effective in May, and maps for Fulton County will be effective in September. Coweta County’s flood maps were effective earlier this month. If you live in an area with a new map, visit www.GeorgiaDFIRM.com to find your flood risk online. You can also contact your local floodplain manager with questions about the new maps, and to learn more about flood risks in your community.
These updated maps are more precise than older maps because better flood hazard and risk data has been incorporated, and the latest science has been used to make them more accurate. Flood risks change over time due to construction, development, environmental changes, floodplain widening or shifting, and other factors. These changes send water flowing in new directions, creating flood risks that didn’t exist previously—precisely why flood maps must be updated periodically.
The historic September 2009 flooding in North Georgia is a reminder of how devastating disasters can be. We may not know when the next one will strike, but we can protect ourselves by knowing what risks exist in our communities, and to prepare for them.
By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. Even people living in lower risk areas can experience flooding, which is the most common and costly natural disaster in the U.S. In fact, about 25 percent of flood insurance claims occur in lower risk flood zones.
Regardless of flood zone, everyone should take steps to financially protect themselves from a flood disaster which affects far too many communities each year. The primary way to do this is by purchasing flood insurance. Since standard homeowner’s, business owner’s, and renter’s insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, flood insurance is an important consideration for everyone.
Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program, a voluntary program administered by the FEMA. You can purchase flood insurance policies from state-licensed property and casualty insurance agents who you deal with for other property insurance needs, or visit www.floodsmart.gov to locate an agent.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.