Changes in flood mapping to effect construction, insurance, mortgages in Verde Valley

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) seminar to be held Nov. 1

If You Go

What: FEMA Stakeholder Workshop Seminar

Where: Cottonwood Recreation Center, 150 S. 6th St., Cottonwood

When: Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

How Much: No charge but seating is limited

Contact: RSVP Michelle Murie at or phone 929-203-5554

VERDE VALLEY – Living along the Verde River offers a world of possibilities; however, one of these possibilities includes flooding. Due to recent changes in the mapping of flood plains, a FEMA Stakeholder Workshop Seminar is being held Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cottonwood Recreation Center.

The event is presented by Esther Talbert, broker, Yavapai Realty and Michelle Murie, Lawyer's Title, to answer homeowner's questions on the effect of recent FEMA remapping on obtaining construction, insurance and mortgages.

Where are the changes taking place?

"There's a proposed new re-study of Oak Creeek going on over the next few years that may result in re-mapping thats substantial in Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek," said Talbert, a 47-year veteran of the Valley real estate market.

But the changes don't stop there.

"I just closed on a piece of real estate in Camp Verde," she said. "In 2010, a general contractor came-in and got permits to sight build. They met requirements for build-up in a flood fringe and met the elevation of FEMA requirements. More recently, they (FEMA) did a re-study and re-mapping. Now this subject property is 'pre-firm' and the homeowner's flood insurance will go way up."

"We will also have Cottonwood engineers speak about ongoing work on non-designated flood plains in Old Town Cottonwood. When it was mapped by FEMA, it was undefined, so the city managed it," said Talbert.

Even houses outside a designated flood plain may be at risk.

"Arizona has a lot of flash flooding that many properties are affected by even when they are not in the flood plain at all. We will talk about alternatives to Home Smart FEMA insurance that are sometimes are more competitive, like Lloyds of London," she said.

Why is flood mapping changing?

"In years past, it was many years before they re-mapped," said Talbert. "Because studies are more advanced, technology is much more accurate, because of the way the track these things, these areas of mapping are much more realistic as to what is happening. They are also subject to weather changes - - new studies could occur which result in re-mapping as necessary."

Another factor is recent changes in Congress that shift more of the responsibility onto localities.

"FEMA has gone into partnership with Yavapai County. The county is responsible for all of the reporting and ongoing changes having to do with flooding," she said.

Experts share their experience

Presenting at the event will be a wide-range of experts who are experienced dealing with flood mapping issues, including flood engineers, contractors, mortgage lenders and insurance brokers:

• Dan Cherry, director, Yavapai County Flood Control, will outline recent changes and how they affect property owners, the history of FEMA and progress in the FEMA flood plains.

• Bruce Bender, senior vice president, Bender Consulting Services, Inc., will brief attendees on how changes brought about by reform legislation and flood maps can affect insurance requirements and costs.

• John Bassous, owner, Tierra Verde Builders, shares how he has raised structures to meet FEMA elevation requirements, as well as the associated costs and delays when doing so.

• G. Krishan Ginige, president and senior engineer, will cover flood hazards, building in flood zones and how to investigate data prior to selling a home.

• Phyllis McDaniel, mortgage originator, PrimeLending, will answer consumer questions regarding loan requirments in flood plains and flood ways, how to work with insurance companies and more.

How does flood mapping affect me?

"As mapping changes, it affects properties because of the requirement for flood insurance. Anyone taking a loan out would need flood insurance in these areas unless they are paying cash," said Talbert.

"What affects rates of FEMA is all the flooding all over the U.S.," she said. "The insurance pot of the government has to be replenished. What has contributed to the rising rates has been all of the catastrophes, like Sandy. They all affect every one of us with our flood insurance rates when they have to pay this out," adding that rate increases of about 20 percent annually are being seen.

"What it comes down to is learning what attorneys are required to do, what builders are required to do, what real estate agents are required to do and what lenders are required to do with FEMA mapping," said Talbert.


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