Thursday, September 24, 2020

Know Your Flood Zones


The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors (MIAAOR) Professional Development Committee recently hosted a lunch hour learning for Floodplain Outreach. The presentation explained why it is important for both realtors and homeowners to know their flood zones.

City of Marco Island Floodplain Coordinator Kelli DeFedericis was the guest speaker. She explained relevant FEMA regulations and how the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) affects Marco Island.

“An SFHA is when the federal government deems an area prone to flood through its mapping system,” DeFedericis explained. “According to FEMA, Marco Island is an area where the National Flood Insurance Program’s Floodplain Management Regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies.”

Some of the major components of SFHA building regulations involve finished floor elevations, elevation of all machinery servicing the structure, and use of hydrostatic flood vents in enclosures and garages.

FEMA guidelines cover base flood and finished floor elevations. FEMA sets the minimum height you can build at with its Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or flood proofing of structures. It computes elevation to the level at which floodwater is anticipated to rise during a base flood. In order for new construction or renovations to stay in compliance, the general rule of thumb is to add the BFE of an area plus one.

Virtually all home renovation projects must be submitted to the City of Marco Island to be assessed accordingly in order to meet federal standards.

Unfortunately, at times the city has received a renovation permit request only to discover that the home is not in compliance with the proper base height of its flood zone area. This sometimes occurs when the homeowner was not made aware of the property’s flood zone status at the time of purchase. State law does not require realtors to disclose this information. However, DeFedericis suggested that realtors call the Floodplain Coordinator to request elevation certificates so that a homebuyer will have this important information. Homebuyers should always fully understand flood zone status when purchasing real estate, especially undeveloped land.

DeFedricis says that she “usually refers to the island as being 99% in a special flood hazard area (SFHA).” Zone X is not considered to be a part of the special flood hazard area (the Indian Hill and Estates areas). This does automatically mean that flood insurance is not needed. If a homeowner in Zone X has a mortgage, the requirement of flood insurance will remain up to the lender. And even if not required by the mortgage company, a homeowner may choose to have the extra protection provided by a flood insurance policy.

On Marco Island, no home is completely safe from flooding. Flood insurance is intended to protect a homeowner from the financial devastation that can occur from major flood damage caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes. Homeowners and renter’s insurance do not typically cover flood damage.

Factors used to calculate flood insurance premiums may include the building’s year of construction, occupancy, number of floors, location of contents, flood risk, location of the lowest floor in relation to the base flood elevation on the flood map, the deductible amount, and the amount of building and contents coverage.

Changes to the flood map can result in an increase or decline in a policyholder’s premium. The last update to the flood zone maps was in 2012. The next update will be within the next two years.

Sometimes an elevation certificate becomes outdated, and a homeowner may be eligible to receive reimbursement from an adjustment to their flood insurance premium. In such a case, the homeowner would need to provide the updated elevation certificate to their insurance company. This is when the Floodplain Coordinator can help.

“Maps change,” DeFedericis stated. “You shouldn’t have to pay for new elevation certificate every time a new map comes out, so that’s where I come in. You reach out to me, I provide that letter with the current map information.”

The hour included an open questions session and lunch provided by Donna Raynor and Home-Tech.

Marco Island homeowners can obtain a copy of their elevation certificate on the city’s website, www.cityofmarcoisland.com. For property predating 1999 that has not been renovated, check with the Collier County Building Department or visit www.colliercountyfl.gov.

The Marco Island Area Association of Realtors is located 140 Waterway Drive. For information on upcoming events, email kandysweeney@marcorealtor.com.

Floodplain Coordinator Kelli DeFedericis addresses local realtors. Photo by Jesus Calo

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