The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) examined the City of Minnetonka’s flood risks and updated the city’s flood hazard maps in 2016. These map changes are a mandated requirement by FEMA.
To comply with FEMA’s requirements, the city updated its floodplain ordinance in 2016 to recognize new flood hazard maps.
The updated flood hazard maps, or Flood Insurance Rates Maps (FIRMs) changed in three primary ways:
- New elevation and modeling data for Minnehaha Creek
- New elevation and modeling data for Nine Mile Creek
- All other areas are a digitization of the boundaries that were outlined in the 2004 FEMA maps (the last FIRM update)
Depending upon the location of your property in relation to the flood boundary, you may be in one of three scenarios:
The flood boundaries show the structure mapped within the floodplain.
The structure has been identified in a higher-risk flood zone, known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). This area is shown on the flood hazard map – also known as a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) – as a zone beginning with the letters A or AE. If you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender and the structures on the parcel are within the SFHA, then by federal law your lender must require you to carry flood insurance.
The structure is located in the floodplain; OR the flood boundary is too close to the existing structure to make a definitive determination on whether the structure is in or out of the new floodplain.
This means the parcel either remains in the floodplain, or is too close to make a definitive determination with an aerial photograph. These properties will either need to acquire flood insurance or apply for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). Information on this process is linked below.
The parcel intersects the floodplain boundary, but the structure is “out as shown” based on aerial photographs.
This means that the parcel may have floodplain, but the structure is located outside of the SFHA.
Your lender may contact you if you are in one of these scenarios. Most lenders send a letter indicating that property owners in the SFHA must get flood insurance within 45 days or have a policy force-placed, which is normally much more expensive. Do not ignore this letter. Follow up with your lender even if you believe you may have been inadvertently included in the SFHA.
Taking action sooner rather than later may help keep flood insurance rates down. Contact your lender about a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). A PRP is for structures that are not in the high risk floodplain at the time the policy becomes effective, and the policy is not effective until 30 days after purchase. Contact your mortgage or insurance lender to see what options are available for structures and parcels that are now shown to be in the SFHA with the map update.
Due to the digital nature of the updated maps, it is much easier for the lenders to identify the structures and parcels within the SFHA. You may have been in the floodplain all along but had not been told to get flood insurance since it was harder to make the determination with the older maps.
Flood insurance is available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
For more information on flood insurance, or to find an insurance agent, visit FloodSmart.gov. If flood insurance is not a requirement, it may be an advisable purchase to further protect your property.
Normal home hazard insurance does not cover flood damage.
Elevating or flood-proofing a structure may help to reduce flood risk and allow for cheaper flood insurance. Learn more about floodplain management.
If you believe your structure is higher than the flood elevation, you may submit a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) application to FEMA. You will need to hire a professional engineer or professional land surveyor to complete a field survey to accompany your application. If a structure is several feet above the flood elevation, it may be possible to get a map from the city in lieu of a field survey.
View a step-by-step guide on how to submit a LOMA.
Visit the following websites to learn more about submitting a LOMA:
- MN Department of Natural Resources - FEMA Forms
- FEMA - Letter of Map Amendment Process
- MN Department of Natural Resources - Map Appeals and Amendments
For detailed information regarding the LOMA process, call toll free at 1-877-336-2627.