Henn. Co. Homeowners Affected by Changes to Flood Zone Maps

Updated: 06/29/2013 8:59 AM KSTP.com By: Cassie Hart

Homeowners in Minnesota take notice. You might have a target on your back. 

That's because FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is updating its flood plain maps for half of the counties in the state.

One of them is Hennepin County.  The review is especially upsetting to some folks in Edina. 

900 residents got a letter in the mail from City Hall, telling them their home is now considered to be in a flood plain.  And the consequences could be costly.

Vern Blietz points out that he can't even see 9 Mile Creek, or any water at all, from his Edina home, "We've lived here for 20 years and we haven't had any problems."

He wonders how 9 Mile Village near Highway 62 made it onto FEMA's flood plain chart?

The state's expert at the DNR tells us FEMA is revising the boundaries and elevation in three areas in Edina:  Rolling Hills, Morningside and 9 Mile Village.  

The revision is putting dozens of homes that have never been in a flood zone before, in one.  Which means, residents who have a mortgage are now required by the bank to buy flood insurance.

It can be expensive and it's in addition to a standard homeowner's policy, which doesn't cover flood damage.  Plus, it affects remodeling, tear downs and resale.

We asked the DNR where the need and rush for this come from.  "FEMA started updating maps as part of a $1 billion dollar effort to update across the whole United States and this is part of that effort," says Suzanne Jiwani.

The revision affects so many homeowners, the city hired an engineering firm to challenge FEMA's findings,

"We've found some inaccuracies in technical modeling and maps being used," says Janna Kieffer with Barr Engineering.

The City of Edina plans to file an appeal on behalf of homeowners, it's not clear how many yet.

Last year, Congress passed a law calling on FEMA to make changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.  That includes updating flood plains and insurance rates, to make the insurance program financially sound over the long-term.

We asked the Insurance Federation of Minnesota how much flood insurance costs. 

The average homeowners policy runs about $990/year.  Flood insurance is on top of that. 

FEMA's program costs about $400 on the low end.  But in some cases, flood insurance can be triple that, or more:  anywhere from $1,500 to more than $6,000/year. 

The rate is based on where your house is in relation to the flood elevation. 

In fact, any homeowner with a federally backed loan, that includes anyone who refinanced your home the past few years, is required to have flood insurance.

Click here to find your flood map.