Another county fights FEMA over flood maps


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Justin Jones

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky. - A leader in Livingston County says dozens of people got a letter from their mortgage company saying they must buy flood insurance within 45 days because they now live in a flood plain.

It's because FEMA redrew the county's flood plain maps back in 2012.
New maps put more people in the flood plain, some people whose homes have never flooded.

Mortgage companies are required to make sure the properties they finance are covered by flood insurance if they're in the flood zone.

For a $150,000 house, a homeowner would have to pay $1,700 a year for flood insurance. That's slightly more than one percent.  If you don't live in an actual flood plain and want to prove it to FEMA, you must hire a surveyor who would submit a letter of map amendment.

The survey will cost anywhere from $600 to $1,000.  If you think this doesn't affect you, it could because letters are still going out and it's not happening in Livingston County alone.

Green Turtle Bay Resort manager and Grand Rivers Mayor Tom Moodie has a lot to do.  He never thought fighting FEMA would be on the list.

"We did everything we could to negotiate," Moodie said.

Condo owners are learning, while these properties never flooded, they're in the new FEMA flood plain, and they have to pay a surveyor to prove otherwise.

"I don't care how deep your pockets are, throwing money away is not an option, to anybody and it shouldn't have to be," Moodie said.

Moodie worries those who don't have mortgages will never find out they've been moved into the flood plain, until it's time to sell.

"If the person buying it is taking out a mortgage it'll show up as being in the floodplain and it'll take the value of house down," Moodie said.

Moodie said Grand Rivers considered paying a surveyor to survey all the properties that are now in the floodplain and sending all the map amendments to FEMA all at once, but he says the city simply cant afford it.

He said it would have cost several hundred thousand dollars. The Livingston County Judge Executive asks homeowners in his county to call his office if they receive one of these letter from their mortgage company.

The president signed a law that authorizes FEMA to reimburse costs associated with successful appeals. FEMA says they are still evaluating that, and right now, they don't reimburse for any costs associated with or appealing flood insurance rate maps.

Lots of people in Lyon County are going through the same thing. Looks like FEMA won't be reimbursing them, either. County leaders are still trying.