County residents will have to wait longer to find out if an updating of flood plain maps will affect their property and/or homeowners insurance requirements.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it is withdrawing its proposed rule concerning proposed flood elevation determinations for the unincorporated areas in Highlands County.
South Florida Water Management District spokesman Randy Smith said his water district agreed to withdraw the flood plain map work that it had done until Southwest Florida Water Management District can finish its in-depth flood elevation study.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District will then take both its study and the South Florida Water Management District's one and submit them together to FEMA so that everything can come out at the same time, he said.
Highlands County planner Martin Fitts said South Florida Water Management District had submitted its flood insurance rate maps early to the federal registry.
After both water districts submit their maps at the same time, a new 90-day appeal period will start possibly at the end of October or the beginning of November, he said.
After the appeal period, it will take about six months for FEMA to check all the appeals and integrate them into the new flood insurance rate maps, Fitts said.
Right now it is anticipated that the new maps will go into effect in the summer or fall of 2013, he said.
The flood insurance rate maps will determine in some cases whether or not a mortgage holder will require or suggest flood insurance for a house.
If you are in a special "high hazard flood area," then you are required to have flood insurance, Fitts said.
With the new maps, some people who previously were not required to have flood insurance may need it now, he noted.
Homes financed with a federally backed loan could be required to have flood insurance. National Flood Insurance Program costs run from $462 to $11,214 per year.
The maps also provide flood zone and elevation information to help community planners, engineers, builders and others decide where and how new structures, developments and remodeling projects should be constructed.
For information regarding flood insurance, contact insurance agents or visit www.FloodSmart.gov. For technical questions, contact Southwest Florida Water Management District at (352) 796-7211, ext. 4297. For general questions, contact Highlands County at (863) 402-6650.