February 2017: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released new flood maps for Okaloosa County.
From WEAR TV 3. Broadcast on February 27, 2017
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released new flood maps of Okaloosa County and for some it could cost thousands of dollars per year on their insurance bill. But there is something you can do to minimize any possible increase. FEMA told the county about the new flood maps at their last commission meeting. Now, you have 90 days to dispute their findings or face higher insurance rates. The Fort Walton Beach waterfront areas, bayous and streams are visually appealing and create a sportsman's paradise. But in 2013, unprecedented floods inundated some areas close to the water. Okaloosa County Commissioner Trey Goodwin represents those areas hit hardest by the rains and many homes FEMA puts in the new flood zone. "We're in my old stomping grounds, this is where I grew up," Commissioner Goodwin said, "I was here during Opal and I can tell you these streets were dry."
The new maps include many new areas which were outside of the flood zone on the 2002 maps. Suzanne Clarke's family has owned a home in a neighborhood north of Cinco Bayou for more than six decades. FEMA just listed it as at risk for flooding. "Well, I'm not real thrilled about it," Clarke said, "it has not flooded in the 60 years since she's been in this house, so we are not real happy about it going up." Commissioner Goodwin agrees and worries about the financially vulnerable citizens in his district. "It's very possible that a slight tweak in a variable that was someone else's opinion has now changed a financial outlook for a senior citizen," Commissioner Goodwin said.
These maps cover the whole county and are available online. They allow you to click on your property and see what flood zone you are in. Your flood zone status determines how much you have to spend to get flood insurance. Jennifer Schweikert, a local insurance agent, knows the cost can vary widely. "You can go anywhere between $3,400 to $3,500 a year to $600 a year," she said. You can appeal the zoning with FEMA but if they deny your request you do have another option, an elevation certificate. She has had clients who have used them with great effect. "The rate was about $2,700 a year, she went and got an elevation certificate and it went down to $800 a year," Schweikert recalled.
Okaloosa County Department of Growth Management has information on the proposed new flood maps on the County website. Click here to go to that webpage. Read through the page to see the information that is available, how to get the information for your property, and, if necessary, the appeal process.
Scroll down the page to find a map of Okaloosa Island. This will generate a PDF file. Using Adobe Acrobat Reader, this file scale can be changed and the map moved to examine the Street level and individual properties. The file will look like the following picture.
To see a report about an individual property, go to the Northwest Florida Water Management District Flood Information Portal website by clicking here. Once there, click on Okaloosa County to get the county map. The Okaloosa County flood maps will be in the middle of the map. Double click to zoom in on the map and hold single click down to drag the map around to find the area of interest.
The map for Okaloosa Island is 12091C0463J. Continue zooming in and dragging the map until you find the property of interest. Once you get to the street and individual property level, a red box will appear around the property boundry when you put the mouse there. It should look something like the following picture. (The property lines are not shown in the following picture.)
Select the property with the red outline and click. A property report will be generated with the flood information. This report can be printed. A sample property report is shown below.
Now that you have your flood information, you can appeal that information if you feel it is incorrect. The County has designated the Growth Management Department as the central location to receive and process appeals.
Go to the Northwest Florida Water Management District Flood Information Portal Meeting Documents website by clicking here. Once there, find the entry for Property Owner Appeal Petition Direction and Form and click on it. This will be a Microsoft Word document with the directions and forms to process and appeal. This information should be submitted to the Growth Management Department, 1250 N. Eglin Parkway, Shalimar, FL 32579.
There is a 90 day appeal process window.