February 2019 was one of the wettest months ever across the state of Alabama. As the state was already in a surplus for rainfall because of a very wet 2018 hazardous situations developed.
The ground could not take any more water and as a result the additional 9-12 inches of rain that month had no where to go. Many of the rivers and lakes in the area are managed by the power company and it even caught them off guard. As rainfall totals started to rise local lakes rose quickly and many dams could not handle the additional water. As a result many areas began to flood that have not flooded in 50 years.
One of these areas was Nathan Estates in Muscle Shoals, Al where people where told they didn't need flood insurance because they were in a flood zone x. So what is a flood zone x? Well lets discuss the three main flood zones outside of the coast..
The three main flood zones are X, A, and AE. Flood zone X does not have a base flood elevation because it is a minimal risk zone. However 30% of flooding occurs in these areas as a result of flash flooding. To give you an example of low risk areas that have been impacted, the majority of flooding in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey was in low risk zones. Same thing for many parts of North Carolina after Hurricane Florence. Flood insurance in these areas may not be required but it is highly recommended and very reasonable. A policy in a flood zone x or preferred zone generally runs around $500 a year.
Flood zone A is the next zone this is generally areas that are in the 500 year flood zone. This is simply the probability of flooding occurring during a given year. If you have a mortgage and live in this zone then flood insurance is going to be required.
The last of three main zones is flood zone AE this is considered a high risk zone or also a 100 year flood zone. Just like flood zone a this is just the probability of flooding occurring during a given year.
Now that we know the three main flood zones how can this recent flooding event impact flood insurance rates in areas like Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Anniston, and even Cullman Al. Well these flood zones are determined based on historical data. So an event like this could change low risk zone to a high risk zone even though your property may not have flooded, it could also possibly take you from a high risk zone to a low risk zone.
So what happens if your property is moved from a flood X to a flood zone A or AE? Well FEMA tries to update these maps every year but generally 2-3 years is probably more accurate. How will you be notified? If you have a mortgage then you will received a letter from your mortgage company but if you don't then they will simply put a notice in the paper.
So once this new zone goes into place what can you do to fight it? Well for the first 12 months FEMA allows whats call the new mapping rule. This is where they give you the preferred zone pricing for the first 12 months to help you adjust to the rate. You can also get an elevation certificate to show that your home is above the base flood elevation. You can also look at the private market for flood insurance where many different options are provided.
As we mentioned great options through the private market you have to be cautious because these are the first companies that will non-renew your policy after an area has a lot of flooding.
These type of flooding events can have a major impact on future flood insurance rates. We always recommend reaching out to The Flood Insurance Guru when looking at the different flood insurance options in Al. If you have questions about your current flood situation or want to learn more fill the form out below.