Thursday, May 26, 2022

Nearly 500 Wilmington properties added to new FEMA flood zone map

According to FEMA, the floodplain is changing. Regulatory areas for flooding, including Greenfield Lake, RiverLights, and the downtown area, are widening. Meanwhile, high-velocity zoning, areas at risk from the direct impact of waves along the Intracoastal Waterway near Landfall and Summer Rest Road are dialing back.

Wilmington will soon update its floodplain zoning to maintain federal compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA). (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
Wilmington will soon update its floodplain zoning to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA). (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

WILMINGTON—Soon, nearly 500 properties in Wilmington will be designated within FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Area, which will cause insurance adjustments for residents by late August.

RELATED: FEMA has new floodplain maps. Here are the changes expected in Southeastern NC

Nearly 800 parcels, including 453 residential and 14 commercial structures, will likely see increased insurance under FEMA’s new flood zones. Kathryn Thurston, Wilmington’s floodplain manager, made note of FEMA’s zoning trends in a case summary report that will be reviewed by the city’s Planning Commission on July 11.

Drivers and pedestrians in Wilmington may have noticed the flood map signs posted along well-traveled roadways. However, the signs’ locations do not necessarily indicate parcels up for flood rezoning. They are simply intended to garner public attention.

“They were posted in primary thoroughfares for the general public,” Thurston said.

In her report, Thurston pointed out several patterns among hundreds of flood rezonings recommended by FEMA. While properties located along the Intracoastal Waterway near Landfall and Summer Rest Road are designated as having decreased flood risk, properties within Bradley Creek and Hewletts Creek communities are receiving higher-risk zonings.

RiverLights, downtown Wilmington and the Greenfield Lake community will remain in the same flood zone for the most part. However, Thurston found the regulatory floodplain to be widening along those areas.

In New Hanover County – not including Wilmington’s city limits – approximately 698 structures will soon be added to FEMA’s “AE Zone.” This zone is referred to as the 100-year floodplain, slightly less risky than the “VE Zone,” which is designated for high-velocity area subject to wave action.

With approximately 300 fewer county properties designated in the VE Zone under FEMA’s new maps, the city is also experiencing a shift away from high-velocity zoning according to Thurston’s report. In other words, more properties are at risk from flooding, while fewer are at risk from the direct impact of ocean waves.

Wilmington’s Planning Commission and City Council will vote to approve floodplain rezonings in addition to flood amendments to maintain federal compliance before FEMA’s August 28 deadline.

If the city chooses not to update its maps and code according to FEMA’s recommendations, residents will no longer be eligible to receive insurance subsidies through the National Flood Insurance Program.

To look up your property according to FEMA’s new floodplain designations, visit FRIS’s interactive online map. On the righthand side of the map, click on “effective” and select “preliminary.” The “preliminary” results represent FEMA’s new floodplain designations.


Send tips to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com or follow Johanna on Twitter @j__ferebee

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