Chippewa County property owners are being forced to essentially pick their poison under recently-altered floodplain numbers established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Larry Rogers of Rogers Land Surveying took time from his busy schedule to explain the impact.
The old FEMA map had established the 1 percent annual flood plain elevation at 604.4 feet for Lake Superior. The new one brought that up to 604.9 feet — triggering mortgage lenders to re-evaluate what is required of property owners.
The change, approved in October of 2014, classified hundreds of previously high and dry properties under the special “flood hazard area” designation, leaving property owners with two choices. The first requires the purchase of flood insurance — which can range, according to knowledgeable estimates, from somewhere around $250 on the low end on up into thousands of dollars annually. The second option requires the completion of a survey in pursuit of a letter of map amendment — price tag: generally somewhere less than $1,000.
Rogers indicated there has been a great deal of interest in his services.
“The first three months of 2014, I don’t believe I did any,” he said when asked to compare that to the same time frame in 2015 where he calculated, “in excess of 80.”
The survey is not a magic bullet, Rogers indicated, as any structure must be above the minimum grade.
“Not everyone is getting it,” he said of the letter of map amendment document. “The survey is no guarantee, the elevations are what they are.”
With FEMA’s new map, property owners along Lake Superior, the St. Mary River and virtually any other body of water or drainage from Whitefish Township on the northwestern end to Drummond Island at the southeastern tip can find themselves facing the choice of paying for insurance or hoping the numbers come up high enough through the survey.
“At least call the surveyor and talk to them about it,” said Rogers, offering his best advice. “But there are places where they will not get out of buying flood insurance.”