Columbia County homeowner see relief in new flood maps

Georgia Department of Natural Resources personnel review new flood risk maps.

Many Columbia County homeowners acknowledged the good news Wednesday their homes are no longer at high risk for flooding, but likely won’t see savings on their insurance bills until 2019.

 

Firefighter Bryant Wolf said he and his wife almost backed away from buying their parents’ home in the Bridlewood subdivision when they learned flood insurance his parents never had to buy would cost him at least $3,000 a year.

Some time after 1992, the address was added to a map of areas at high risk of flooding by a nearby, but a typically dry drainage ditch that feeds into Jones Creek. Wolf said Wednesday it had been removed.

“It’s a big relief,” he said. “I’m going to keep flood insurance, but a reasonable premium.”

The maps being updated for the first time since 2007 use much better mapping that’s accurate to within two feet and greatly improved water collection and movement data that has eliminated some 6,000 acres of land from high-risk flood zones, said Haydn Blaize, floodplain unit manager for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

A handful of the 77 homeowners whose properties turned up at higher risk on the new maps also attended a Wednesday workshop in Grovetown.

But it’s important to remember the maps don’t guarantee a home won’t flood, Blaize said.

“One thing we want to emphasize, whether a home is in or out of a high-risk zone, nature is not going to read this map,” he said.

The maps look at areas within a square mile of major creeks, streams and other waterways in terms of their risk of seeing a 100-year flood, he said. Dam breach analysis is a separate consideration under DNR’s safe dams unit.

Joe Holley, city engineer for Grovetown, said Grovetown saw 28 dwellings be removed from high risk areas. Harlem Public Works Director Robert Fields said 13 undeveloped parcels in the Hardy Station subdivision near Euchee Creek are no longer considered high risk.

Harlem homeowner Jorge Rodriguez said his rural home near a pond was moved out of the pond’s flood risk area and he hopes to save on flood insurance. “Before it was in the flood plain; now it’s not,” Rodriguez said.

Richard Baldwin, a land surveyor, said his Sumter Landing home was moved a few feet away from the flood zone. With fewer Columbia County areas at risk, fewer homeowners will need the elevation certificates he prepares to help them lower an insurance bill, Baldwin said.

While the maps have been created, they now go for a 90-day comment period and an appeals process. Blaize said successful appeals are rare but must show scientific proof with data that’s better or more current than what DNR used. According to a projection at the open house, the appeals period runs through the summer of 2018, with insurance changes and new permitting available in the spring of 2019.

 

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

 

More