County, FEMA team up to fix flood map errors

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Flood Control District continues to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fix county flood insurance maps.

The maps help local governments administer flood plain regulations and help insurance agencies set flood insurance rates.

The district has been working with FEMA since 2004 to update the county flood maps. The old maps were completed in 1982. The maps were finished in January 2008, but County Flood Control personnel found several errors.

Personnel found areas on the new flood maps where it appears as if the new map has the same contours as the old map, but the area has been shifted. They also found areas where the ground conditions don't match the new FEMA maps.

Inaccurate maps can make a big difference in insurance rates, as Golden Valley resident Margaret Wene found out earlier this year when she received a letter from her flood insurance company saying she was no longer eligible for the preferred rate since her home was now in a flood zone.

Wene and her neighbors have homes in a small subdivision which sits off of a section of Diabase Road that lies between Verde and Colorado roads. According to the FEMA maps, it is now in a high-risk flood zone.

Her annual flood insurance payment went from $326 a year to $1,397 a year. Her insurance deductible went from $500 to $1,000. Because Wene has a loan on her property, her bank requires her to carry flood insurance.

County Development Services Director Nick Hont said the county is attempting work with FEMA and Wene to resolve the issue.

One way the county is trying to fix the problem is by collecting new topographical data and new aerial photography. So far, the county has collected approximately 300 square miles of data.

The county also launched the GIS (Geographical Information System) Accuracy Project in April 2010 to increase the accuracy of the county's GIS maps in reference to FEMA's digital maps.

The county is also working with FEMA to study watershed areas in Mohave Valley, Golden Valley, north of Lake Havasu City and north of Kingman. The studies will study FEMA maps for errors, identify areas that have flooding problems and areas that may need improvements to prevent flooding. The studies are expected to be finished in December.

FEMA has also allocated $350,000 to the county to fix floodplain maps in the Mohave Valley area and plans to study areas in Golden Valley and north of Lake Havasu in the future.

The county will submit a letter of map revision or a letter of map amendment with detailed data to FEMA for areas that are most impacted by map errors. It can take anywhere from several months to as much as three years before the changes will be recorded on the county's maps, the department stated in a new release.

Property owners with questions on how flood mapping will affect their property can contact the Flood Control Division at (928) 757-0925.