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New flood zone maps for Collier County might mean you need to buy insurance

Collier County homeowners are now required to purchase flood insurance if they fall within newly drawn flood zones.

FEMA just updated its flood zone maps. And, if you are living in Collier County, you may be at risk.

We looked at how residents can read new flood zone maps Monday.

“I know there was flooding in the beginning of the street when we have heavy rain,” Susana McHugh said. “The water has gotten raised almost, I’d say, 12 inches if not more.”

McHugh watches the waters rise on her street regularly. But her house is not in a FEMA flood zone even though her neighbors are.

Collier County is gearing up to use new flood zone maps this year. What that likely means is more homes will be in flood zones and paying higher insurance rates.

“There’s a base flood elevation for each community,” insurance agent Kristen Cantoni said. “And let’s say it’s eight for your base flood. So, if your house specifically is at a higher elevation, then you’re going to pay a lower price. And, if you’re at a lower elevation, then you’re going to pay a higher price.”

The new preliminary flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) were developed through a partnership between the communities and FEMA.

“It’s based on topography and historical rainfall amounts and historical data,” said Christopher Mason, the Collier County flood plain coordinator.

You can find out right now whether the new flood zone maps impact you by visiting the Collier County 2019 preliminary flood maps website. Click flood map change viewer and type an address.

MORE: Know Your Flood Hazard – Collier County 

From there, if your house is in blue, that means you are in a flood zone. But McHugh told me the maps are hard to read.

“The county should make it easier for someone to determine if they’re in a flood zone,” McHugh said. “When you look at the maps, they’re hard to decipher.”

Collier County plans to host a series of open houses next week to give homeowners a chance to ask questions. Notices are being sent out in the mail.

Anyone who needs reasonable accommodations at the open house can contact FEMA’s Office of Equal Rights at [email protected] to make arrangements no later than three days prior to the open house.

Collier County staff will also be available to assist residents with questions about DFIRMs by phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 239-252-2942.

For more information about the upcoming open houses, contact Building Plan Review Senior Project Manager Howard Critchfield at [email protected] or 239-252-5858.

The scheduled open house dates:

  • Monday, March 2 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Collier County South Regional Library

8065 Lely Cultural Pkwy #9005

Naples, FL 34113

  • Tuesday, March 3 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

City of Naples Baker Park

100 Riverside Circle

Naples, FL 34102

  • Tuesday, March 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Frank E. Mackle Community Park

1361 Andalusia Terrace

Marco Island, FL 34145

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Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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