VIENNA - City officials in Vienna want to warn residents of upcoming spikes in their flood insurance rates.
A new act put into motion by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, was passed by Congress. It requires changes to major components of the program, including flood insurance, flood hazard mapping, grants and management of floodplains.
Rob Rush, the city's building code official, said the changes in the law mean some Vienna residents could see a slight or large increase in flood insurance rates.
Photo by Mandi Cardosi
Rob Rush, Vienna’s building code official, explains the floodplain ordinance and Biggert-Waters Act that increase flood insurance rates on homeowners and city properties.
"I'm guessing we probably have about 300 structures," Rush said. "There are 166 (flood insurance) policies in Vienna."
The city is on the path to adopting the new flood laws.
Vienna City Council passed the second reading for a floodplain ordinance on Sept. 12. The ordinance elevates the required base flood elevation to two feet above the residence's base flood elevation.
The base flood elevation (BFE) varies depending on where a structure is located.
To determine the BFE officials use the lowest point on the ground of a property that touches the existing structure.
For example, in the area of 16th Street the BFE is around 616 feet. Rush said the roadway on 16th Street is at 617 so if a structure is on that street with a basement the lowest floor will be at 608 feet.
The structure will be about seven feet below the BFE, which would cause the flood insurance on the structure to increase.
Rush said one way for residents to solve the problem would be to fill in the basement.
"People can fill in their basement to fix the cost," Rush said.
If a structure was built before the city's maps were set in place, in Vienna's case 1985, it is considered a pre-firm structure and has always received subsidized rates, Rush said.
"For our case it's any structure built before 1985," Rush said. "They've gotten subsidized rates before so they're going to get hit the hardest."
The rates for any resident with flood insurance will increase, but if a resident used a federal loan on the house after 1985 the person will see only a slight increase.
Most properties in the floodplain for Vienna are along Pond Run, with only two properties in the city (Fishbone and the 12th Street garage) situated on the Ohio River.
However, Rush said some residents would be affected living along the Ohio River.
A public meeting on the topic will be held in the city council chambers at 7 p.m. Nov. 7. Rush said he will be there to answer any questions for residents.