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FEMA Backs Down With South LA Homeowners, Too

Oops, again.

For a second time the Federal Emergency Management Agency has admitted its new flood-hazard maps incorrectly placed hundreds of properties in high-risk zones, meaning some homeowners in South Los Angeles will no longer be required to pay expensive insurance premiums.

FEMA had previously reversed course on a decision to publish a map placing more than a thousand Oxnard homeowners in high-risk zones. Both decisions followed SoCal Connected's coverage of the issue in those same communities.

In November, SoCal Connected first uncovered how some South Los Angeles residents were protesting FEMA's proposed map changes because they expanded the high-hazard zones to include hundreds of homes that were not considered at risk before.

FEMA publishes the maps used by insurance companies to determine a property's flood risk. The agency defines a high-risk zone as having a one-percent chance of flooding any given year. By law, homeowners with a federally backed mortgage are required to purchase flood insurance if their property lies within such a zone, and premiums can surpass $1,700 a year.

But several long-time residents in South L.A. had done some research of their own, taking on-the-ground measurements to compare against FEMA's maps. They claimed FEMA had based their maps on faulty information.

A week after the first segment, SoCal Connected aired a follow-up piece showing how homeowners in Ventura County faced a similar predicament. When SoCal Connected pressed FEMA for more information, one of its engineers handed over a map showing a much smaller hazard zone than the one the agency had shared with the public.

Within a week, FEMA announced it would postpone publishing its Oxnard flood map until it had completed a more in-depth study of the area.

Now the agency is pulling a second about-face with homeowners in South Los Angeles, raising the question of whether FEMA will be rethinking its flood-zone designations in other communities as it attempts to revise its maps nationwide.

To find out if your home is in a flood zone, check out our post here. Note, however, that data for Ventura County have not been published yet and the maps for South L.A. are now outdated.

For more information about your home's flood risk, you can also try

LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

Thank you for this story. I live in Orange County and this past Monday received the same notice from my mortgage lender stating that I now had to have flood insurance because of these new FEMA flood maps. I purchased our map from the FEMA website and found out that they used a map of our area that was taken before our home and community were even built!

I live in a new community which used to be a large empty pit of dirt, now that its developed, it actually sits higher than the older homes just a block away, but they did not include them in the flood zones! Seems to me that our new neighborhood was "rated" based on it not existing at the time! Seems wrong to me. For 3 yrs we never needed flood insurance and now the insurance companies/government will get $1600/yr out of us for "flood" insurance. We are very upset!

Thank you for telling this story and covering it, I'm surprised other media networks are not covering it as much as they should.

Make them pay you back.

Reimbursement of certain expenses; appropriation authorization

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§ 4104. Flood elevation determinations
(f) Reimbursement of certain expenses; appropriation authorization
When, incident to any appeal under subsection (b) or (c) of this section, the owner or lessee of real property or the community, as the case may be, incurs expense in connection with the services of surveyors, engineers, or similar services, but not including legal services, in the effecting of an appeal which is successful in whole or part, the Director shall reimburse such individual or community to an extent measured by the ratio of the successful portion of the appeal as compared to the entire appeal and applying such ratio to the reasonable value of all such services, but no reimbursement shall be made by the Director in respect to any fee or expense payment, the payment of which was agreed to be contingent upon the result of the appeal. There is authorized to be appropriated for purposes of implementing this subsection, not to exceed $250,000.

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