Proposed FEMA flood map changes for Plymouth County were recently delayed for a year so FEMA may review the methodology of the flood mapping. The proposed FEMA maps were rolled out in 2013 and were expected to be adopted by communities in 2014. The new maps were intended to model coastal flooding more accurately. Without a doubt, the new maps made quite a splash in Marshfield, Duxbury, and Scituate. In these towns, nearly two thousand homes that were not located in a special flood hazard zone A or V would be remapped into special hazard zones if the new maps were adopted. The new maps were proposed to be adopted by June, 2014.
Many properties currently in a special flood hazard zone would face significant changes in their base flood elevations under the new maps. In some instances, the base flood was raising from 9 to 17 feet elevation. This is the elevation that the property elevation is measured and rated relative to the FEMA base flood elevation.
The primary reasons for postponing the map adoption were the many questions surrounding the science used for the flood mapping. In a nutshell, many believe the FEMA map study was flawed. The towns of Marshfield and Scituate submitted appeals questioning how the maps were created. These towns also engaged consulting engineering firms to review the methodology. Further supporting their arguments was an analysis by the University of Massachusetts that indicates FEMA used wave models used for the Pacific rather than Atlantic Ocean.
Local town officials in Scituate, Marshfield and Duxbury are optimistic that the towns have proven the new flood map deficiencies that must be addressed by FEMA. As a result, the homeowners newly zoned into a special hazard flood zone will not be required to secure flood insurance in 2014.
The town of Hingham in Plymouth county approved new flood maps in 2012, so they are facing a different scenario. Since then, town-hired engineers found numerous problems with the new maps, including incorrect wind speed data and topographical information. Therefore, Hingham officials are filing an appeal against the new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps that added hundreds of homeowners into the flood zone in 2012. Although FEMA delayed map implementation in Plymouth county, there is uncertainty if the delay can be applied to Hingham after the maps have already been approved by the town. Hingham plans to file this appeal by March 1 and hopes to have this decision before Oct 1. Stay tuned for further developments.