FEMA Floodplain Issues In Anoka County
**If you have received a flood insurance letter from Anoka County and have already gone through the LOMA process or resolved the issue with your mortgage lender, no further action is needed.
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.
If you've received a letter from your bank saying you're in the flood zone and need to carry flood insurance, you can challenge it! To do so you must fill out a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) application and submit it to FEMA. If FEMA approves the LOMA, you will receive a letter which can be forwarded onto your mortgage lender who will likely drop the flood insurance requirement or reduce your premium. If you were incorectly forced to add flood insurance as a result of these new flood zone maps, you may be eligible for a refund of your premium with an approved LOMA.
A flood zone property will typically fall into one of three scenarios. The first is where the property touches the flood zone, but all structures on the property are completely out of the flood zone. This scenario is called "out as shown" and represents most of the cases in Anoka County. If this describes your situation, use these directions when filling out your LOMA application.
The second scenario includes any property with a structure or structures inside the flood zone boundary. It is federally mandated that any property (with a mortgage) that has a structure in the high risk flood zone must carry flood insurance. Residents still have hope that the flood insurance requirement can be dropped based on the fact that the flood zone boundary may have been delineated incorrectly. In this scenario, the LOMA applicant should seek assistance from their city or township. You can still submit a LOMA application, but would need a base flood elevation (BFE) or elevation data from a property survey. If you feel your structure is incorrectly in the flood zone then use these directions when filling out your LOMA application.
The third scenario includes any property where the structure is correctly mapped as being in the flood zone. Some residents will simply need to purchase/carry flood insurance in this case.
Anoka County wants to ensure that residents are aware they can challenge the flood insurance requirement and may be able to do so without having to pay for a property survey. Hopefully, the tools on this website along with the assistance from your city or township will prevent Anoka County residents from having to pay for unnecessary flood insurance.