Galveston County has received the final versions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood insurance rate maps, and, after years of waiting, is expected to approve the new maps by August.
Most people in unincorporated Galveston County will see changes in their flood zone designation, County Engineer Michael Shannon told county commissioners Monday.
While some areas will be removed from a special flood designation on the maps, more people will find themselves in a flood zone, Shannon said.
“Overall, more areas have been included in the floodplain,” Shannon said.
Commissioners must vote to adopt the new floodplain maps by August, Shannon said. If they don’t, people in the county will not be eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry didn’t foresee any obstacles to approving the new maps, he said.
Galveston County and other local governments have waited for years for FEMA to release new risk maps. The maps advise homeowners and buyers about the risk of a property of being flooded. People living in certain high-risk flood zones are required to buy flood insurance.
Some preliminary maps have been published for years. But in some cases, the preliminary maps conflict with other, local maps and cause confusion about which risk category a particular property is in.
Out-of-date maps may have also contributed to losses during Hurricane Harvey. About 60 percent of Galveston residents did not have flood insurance in August 2017, the month Hurricane Harvey made landfall.
Draft flood maps were first published as early as 2013.
The release of some of the final maps was delayed in part because the federal advisory council that verifies the accuracy of the map could not make a quorum. Of the 20 spots on the council, 16 were empty, as of February.
Shannon said he plans to deliver a presentation on the county’s new, final risk maps in either June or July.