Homeowners and businesses located near coastal areas have are invited to view updated federal flood insurance rate maps at a May 19 open house in Gig Harbor.
These maps, created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are used by property owners and federal, state and local agencies to determine standards for development on properties within flood hazard areas of the county. Insurance companies use the maps to determine flood insurance rates.
The current maps were approved in the 1980s. Since then, technology and more comprehensive flood data have allowed FEMA to create more detailed and accurate maps.
The biggest change to the maps since the last public review efforts in 2007 and 2009 is the additional mapping detail for coastal properties. Property owners near coastlines should review these changes.
The updated maps are expected to go into effect in the late spring of 2016.
About the open house
The open house will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 19 at Peninsula High School, 14105 Purdy Drive NW in Gig Harbor.
At the open house, property owners and renters both within city limits and in unincorporated areas can view the updated maps and ask questions about how the maps impact their properties and federal flood insurance rates.
Pierce County staff will answer questions and can pull up property-specific maps upon request.
Similar open houses were held in Gig Harbor, Fife and Orting in April to reach those that live or work near rivers and streams, as well as coastal areas.
Map appeals process
FEMA estimates a 90-day appeal window will start at the end of May. Appeals about the maps, especially if someone can show the base flood elevation of their property is wrong, are considered if the appeals are supported scientifically. However, FEMA is not required to agree with all appeals.
Errors such as misspellings or city boundaries are considered comments and FEMA will review those requests for corrections. Pierce County staff will also submit comments on issues they observe with the maps.
Mike Livingston-Halliday, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities public information specialist
Dennis Dixon, Pierce County Public Works and Utilities project manager