Rappahannock floodplain maps updated

Designates properties with high flooding potential

Between recent downpours, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified Rappahannock County Administrator Garrey Curry by letter that floodplain and floodway maps have been updated for the county and incorporated areas.

The agency sent preliminary copies of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report for citizen review and comment. The report describes flood hazard information updates made to the insurance maps.

The maps are updated constantly, Curry pointed out.

“There’s been a concerted effort across the state and I suspect the country to upgrade the maps to the latest generation or accuracy using the latest and greatest topography that [FEMA has] now,” he said.

The area’s topography maps have been updated using LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology that bounces pulsed laser light over terrain and measures the reflected pulses with a sensor.

“FEMA uses this technology along with updated computer programing to model the reaches along the streams,” said Curry. “Those two things together led to the updated plans.”

The National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA, uses these maps to determine properties eligible for flood insurance because of their added risk of flooding.

“NFIP is the big piece,” said the county administrator. “If you want to participate in the flood insurance program then you must adopt the updated floodplain maps in our local ordinance.”

The process of reviewing and updating the maps takes several months, and “provides community officials and citizens in the affected communities with an opportunity to identify changes or corrections to non-technical information, such as corporate limits, road names, and stream names,” according to the FEMA letter.

FEMA representatives will meet with county officials in September to discuss the revised flood hazard information, ordinance adoption, and other frequently asked questions and concerns. After that, citizens will have several months to review the updated maps and appeal any information they feel is inaccurate.

Documents with more information about the updates and outlining specific changes can be found on the county’s Boarddocs website at https://www.boarddocs.com/va/corva/Board.nsf/. Search for the August 6 Board of Supervisors meeting and scroll down the agenda to item L.1.

To see the GIS maps that show the existing flood map and any changes, go to https://bit.ly/2MKZ2VH.

About Patty Hardee 256 Articles
Writer, consultant, actor, director, recovering stand-up comic, Patty covers the county’s courts and other topics of interest for Rappahannock News. She lives with her grape-growing husband Bill Freitag in Flint Hill.