Revised March 27, 2014
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the Town of Yarmouth. The FIRM maps show areas in town known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). These are areas where the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP's) floodplain management regulations must be enforced and where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies for federally backed bank mortgages. FEMA completed their mandatory 90-day appeal period in October of 2013 with no changes. On January 16, 2014, FEMA issued their Letter of Final Determination for these maps which will become effective on July 16, 2014.
Adoption of FEMA FIRM Maps: The Town of Yarmouth will need to adopt the new FIRM maps at the 2014 Annual Town Meeting (Article 32) to remain part of the NFIP program. Suspension from the NFIP would have many impacts for properties located within flood hazard areas. For example, these residents would no longer be able to purchase NFIP flood insurance policies and existing policies would not be renewed; federal disaster assistance would not be available for flood damage; there would be no Federal grants or loans for developments under programs administered by Federal agencies; and Federal mortgage insurance or loan guarantees would not be available. Not adopting the maps will not allow the Town to continue to utilize the existing maps. The new maps will be used by Banks and mortgage companies and by Town Departments when implementing the State Building Code, State Wetland Regulations and State Title 5 Regulations.
Map Reviewing Locations: Copies of the FIRM maps are included below. To identify your property’s flood zone, click on the Town of Yarmouth Index to locate your panel number and then click on the appropriate FEMA Map number below. In addition to the FEMA Maps, the Town of Yarmouth created an easier to read color-coded alternative map showing the SFHAs with approximate property lines and structure locations. Click on the Entire Town GIS Map listed below. Hard copies of all these maps are available for viewing in the Engineering Department on the lower level of Town Hall at 1146 Route 28, South Yarmouth.
Flood Insurance Relief: President Obama signed into law the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act on March 21, 2014. This law amends the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and delays or softens the implementation of some of the flood insurance rate hikes required by Biggert Waters. Although Biggert Waters was originally put into place to improve the financial stability of the National Flood Insurance Program which was running in a deficit after multiple major storm events, it had the unintended financial consequence of excessively high flood insurance rates for many properties. The Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act provides for temporary relief for some properties as outlined in the Fact Sheet included below. Although it provides for slower rate increases, the intent is to move toward full actuarial flood insurance rates for properties located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). All property owners in SFHAs, or moving into SFHAs based on the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps which are effective on July 16, 2014, are encouraged to contact their insurance providers for how this new law specifically relates to their property.
FIRM Map Methodology: Based on an independent review of the FIRM maps by UMass Dartmouth’s School of Marine Science and Technology and by Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, the methodology used by FEMA to develop the FIRM maps has come into question. It is unclear as to whether a faulty model was used or not, but the mapping contractor did use one of the models approved by FEMA for the Atlantic Coast as outlined in the guidance document entitled, “The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico Coastal Guidelines Update”. The currently on-going appeal of the Plymouth County FIRM maps is related to the model used to develop the limits of the Special Flood Hazard Areas. If the appeal is won, it may result in a re-evaluation of the model used throughout Massachusetts, including Barnstable County.
Superseded Letters of Map Change (LOMC): The FIRM maps impact properties which have previously received a Letter of Map Change (LOMC). FEMA has determined that some LOMCs will be revalidated free of charge one day after the revised FIRM becomes effective through a single revalidation letter. For other LOMCs, FEMA has determined that these LOMCs will be superseded by the Preliminary FIRM maps. These LOMCs will no longer be in effect when the revised FIRM Maps become effective on July 16, 2014. Formal notification was sent by the Town to these impacted property owners on August 2, 2013. Refer to the January 16, 2014 letter below from FEMA for a final Summary of Map Actions (SOMA) which lists properties in these two categories.
Contact Information: If the community has any questions regarding the Preliminary FIRM panels and FIS report, please contact Kerry Bogdan at FEMA at . If you have any questions regarding the NFIP in general, please contact Richard Zingarelli, NFIP State Coordinator, at (617) 626-1406, or by email at . Copies of the FIRM maps and FIS report can also be found on the FEMA website at www.fema.gov/preliminaryfloodhazarddata.