Your property might be in the floodplain for the first time.
Another revision of federal floodplain maps affects several hundred properties in Missoula County, inside and outside the city limits, according to floodplain administrators.
“They’re honestly sporadic throughout the entire area,” said Wade Humphries, floodplain administrator for the city. “They’re not really clustered in any one area.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency maps allow Missoula to participate in the national flood insurance program and will eventually affect the cost of a property owner’s insurance. This week, the city and the county hold meetings to inform affected property owners of changes.
Humphries said an estimated 180 properties are affected in the city, although to varying degrees. Some, for instance, show flooding in just one small corner of their property.
“The accuracy with these maps is state-of-the-art,” Humphries said.
In the county, floodplain administrator Todd Klietz said a postcard went to an estimated 250 people whose properties are in the floodplain on the new maps. Additional properties are now out of the floodplain — or remain inside it, albeit to a different extent.
The maps are in draft form, and a public comment period will start in September and run for 90 days. The “Fourth Revised Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps” for Missoula and Missoula County are available on CD for $1 through the city’s Development Services office in City Hall at 435 Ryman St.; they’re available online at ci.missoula.mt.us/FEMA; and they’re in hard copy at the Missoula Public Library, 301 E. Main St.
In a couple of years, FEMA likely will adopt the final version of the maps, and new insurance requirements will kick in, Klietz said. In the meantime, the Board of County Commissioners will consider adopting the current maps in the next month or so for regulatory purposes only.
“When places are shown as having a flood risk, Missoula County doesn’t want to have people unknowingly build in these areas and all of a sudden get flooded,” Klietz said.
The maps are the first countywide update since 1988, and the process has been going on in the city and the county for several years, Humphries said. Various revisions have been released, and he said the city, too, will consider adopting the floodplain maps.
The revisions have taken a long time in part because the maps have reflected inconsistencies, Klietz said. For instance, he said, FEMA considered a structure, such as a highway, to be a flood barrier in some places but not in others, and the county wanted structures to be treated consistently.