Preliminary floodplain maps recently published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency show that the flood-risk status of about 20 percent of Galveston County has changed.
The map, which hadn’t been updated in about 20 years, was digitized to more accurately reflect changes in the county’s floodplain, as well as new coastal analysis and surge models.
League City, Dickinson, Texas City and Hitchcock saw the greatest increase in land now considered to be a high-risk area, according to the map.
Conversely, the map shows a handful of previously high-risk areas in Galveston, Texas City, League City and Hitchcock that are now considered to be at lower risk of flooding.
The map is available online and enables users to look up their home address to determine if they were affected by the changes. New special flood hazard areas are highlighted in red, while areas that were once in high risk areas but are now considered low or moderate risk areas are highlighted in green.
The updated maps will not be made official until the end of a 90-day public comment period and appeals process that will begin in about 3 months, said Donnie Walsh, a FEMA consultant for the region.
After that, FEMA will have to adjust maps to reflect to changes that resulted from the appeals process, which could take more than a year, depending on how many appeals the agency has to review, she said.
Residents can appeal changes to the map at any time, even before the public comment period begins, said FEMA Region 6 Project Manager Larry Voice.
Appeals should be sent to the city’s floodplain administrator.
Region 6 includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
The changes could lead to drastic increases in the cost of flood insurance for coastal Texas in the coming years, Walsh said.
The National Flood Insurance Program now requires a homeowner to carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage on a house located in a new high-risk flood area.
The program has cost-saving options for people newly mapped into a high-risk area, including preferred risk policies at pre-existing rates that will be available for two years.
Two flood risk open houses are scheduled for Feb. 19 on the island and Feb. 20 in League City. FEMA representatives will be available to answer questions from the public about the map and the flood insurance program and will also help attendees navigate the map’s house locater online.
At a Glance
WHAT: FEMA flood risk open house for residents of Galveston Island
WHEN: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 19
WHERE: Moody United Methodist Church, 2803 53rd St.
WHAT: FEMA flood risk open house for mainland residents
WHEN: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Feb. 20
WHERE: League City Civic Center, 400 W. Walker St., in League City
City Floodplain Administrators
Dickinson: Kevin Byal, 281-337-6259
Friendswood: Frank Manigold, 281-996-3285; René Ibarra, 281-996-3392; Bob Bratz, 281-996-3202
Galveston: David Ewald, 409-797-3620
Texas City: Doug Kaneupper and Brian Falk, 409-643-5946
Hitchcock: Darrell Hunter, 409-986-5591
League City: Debbie Vascik, 281-554-1428