The Federal Emergency Management Agency is set to host an open house Oct. 27 at the City Park Recreation Hall to show residents the new Advisory Base Flood Elevations map.
According to the agency’s website, FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is a public source providing the community with flood map information corresponding with certain areas. The center provides tips to understanding flood risks associated with those areas.
Hays County and city officials are considering the adoption of a new flood advisory map following the historic Memorial Day weekend flooding. The new advisory map would change elevation requirements for buildings protected by the National Flood Insurance Program.
According to an Oct. 8 city press release, the floodplain map is based on data compiled by the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, the state of Texas and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Richard Reynosa, senior project engineer for the city of San Marcos, said the open house is an opportunity for residents of San Marcos and surrounding areas to view how the proposed floodplain map could directly impact them.
Diane Howe, FEMA acting risk map outreach lead, said individuals will be able to sit with a geographer to locate his or her home or business address on the map at the open house. Residents will have the opportunity to talk with flood insurance specialists as well as state and city officials about how the changes will affect them.
“(FEMA) wanted to provide a venue for citizens to come to a place where they can actually view the maps online and talk to FEMA experts as well as community officials to discuss any questions they have about this information being delivered to the county,” Howe said.
Howe said it is beneficial for property owners to consider the suggested elevation when rebuilding.
According to a FEMA document provided by Howe, the advisory elevation must be considered for any local or state project requesting federal grants.
“The city is considering whether they will adopt this for compliance purposes,” Howe said. “In other words, not for insurance, but to make it a requirement that people have to get the information to rebuild.”
Dianne Wassenich, program director of the San Marcos River Foundation, said the advisory elevation increased eight feet in Wimberley and she doesn’t think it will increase very much in the San Marcos area.
“Everything is regulated regarding where you build and how you build based on what elevation you are on the floodplain or out of the floodplain,” Wassenich said.
The adoption of the floodplain map is going to make it more difficult to build in low-lying areas near rivers and creeks, Wassenich said.
“People will still try to do it,” Wassenich said. “I’m hoping that our city will stand firm and say, ‘Please do not build in the floodplain.’”
Wassenich said residents should attend the open house to stay informed.
“They need to come see it and locate where they live on the map,” Wassenich said. “Everyone should know whether they live on the floodplain or not.”
Having knowledge about the floodplain can help if another major flood happens, she said.
“One thing that people—especially students—do not understand (is that) many of the apartments they live in are in the floodplain,” Wassenich said.
The morning before the open house, FEMA representatives are hosting a workshop for flood insurance professionals and real estate agents to explain the future impact of the map, Howe said.
The map does not impact flood insurance rates in the immediate future, he said. FEMA officials are releasing a new flood insurance rate map next year based on the elevations in the map.
“It’s more important that (residents) have the opportunity now to go ahead and rebuild to those higher elevations,” Howe said. “Then when the new maps do come out, they won’t be below the base elevation on the new map.”