In December of 2015, FEMA released new flood zone maps for Anoka County. The publishing of these new maps initiated a review by mortgage lenders resulting in potentially thousands of Anoka County residents receiving letters from their bank stating their property is in the flood zone and they have 45 days to add mandatory flood insurance to their policy. In some cases, homes actually are in the flood zone and are correctly being required to carry flood insurance. In other cases, the property may be in the flood zone, but the structures are outside the flood zone or the flood zone itself was incorrectly delineated by FEMA. The cost of flood insurance to the homeowner could be anywhere from $400 to $5,000 per year.
FEMA began updating Anoka County's flood zone boundaries back in 2011. Since then, the State of MN has captured LiDAR data and has produced highly accurate contour maps. These improved contour maps are invaluable when delineating flood zone boundaries, but were unfortunately not available for the Anoka County flood zone update. FEMA used improved contour data (supplied by some cities and watershed districts) when available, but simply re-digitized the old boundaries in most cases resulting in an inaccurate flood zone boundary.
With the new digital FEMA flood layer available, it is assumed that most banks cross referenced the new flood zone layer with the property boundaries of their mortgagors and sent letters to anyone whose property touched the flood zone. Instead of examining each customer on a case-by-case basis, the onus was put on the customer to prove that their structure is out of the flood zone.