By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Hundreds of Lee County residents will find their homes and businesses in a floodplain when a new FEMA map goes into effect Feb. 3.
But they can save money on flood insurance if they purchase a plan before then.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent more than a year updating Lee County’s flood insurance rate map, the first such revision since 1999. The maps highlight which areas are at risk for floods and which properties are in those areas.
Each municipality has a copy of the new flood map available for residents to view. Tupelo’s flood map is at City Hall.
While some communities saw little change from the previous map, others saw their risk areas grow due to development and other factors. Saltillo was one such case.
According to Saltillo Floodplain Manager Brian Grissom, some 200 properties that previously weren’t in a floodplain will be in one come Feb. 3. That means they’ll need flood insurance, especially if they still owe money on their home or business.
Those who get insurance now might be able to get themselves grandfathered in the current flood zone and save money, according to FEMA.
“It is your responsibility,” said Eric Cole of Tupelo’s Gum Tree Mortgage. “If you do not go out on your own to buy it, the bank will automatically asses it for you, and their rates can be two to three times higher than your insurance company that has your current homeowner’s policy.”
Even those whose properties won’t be inside a floodplain after the new map takes effect are encouraged to purchase flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program reports nearly 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas of low-to-moderate risk.
People outside a flood zone can quality for a preferred plan starting as low as $39 per year, the SFIP said.
To purchase flood insurance, call your local insurance agent or visit the NFIP Web site at www.floodsmart.gov.
Learn about flood maps and flood insurance. Go to www.floodsmart.gov.