By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — The latest attempt to inform the residents of Scioto County about low-rate flood insurance was met with better attendance at a New Boston meeting Wednesday night.
Every 10 years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) draws new flood maps. When the newest maps were released in April 2011 it showed some areas of Scioto County are now at a higher risk of flooding. New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton had two public meetings — in 2010 and 2011 — to tell residents about the changes to the flood maps, and offering them the opportunity to purchase low-rate FEMA flood insurance before the rates increased.
He said only 10 people showed up to those meetings.
Hamilton said if a property owner has a mortgage, the bank can require them to purchase this insurance. If the property owner doesn’t get the insurance, the bank can purchase it for them using money from their escrow account and include that cost on the property owner’s mortgage payment. A higher mortgage, he fears, could mean more people being unable to make their payments, and could be forced out of their homes.
Now that the new flood maps are published, people are beginning to see their insurance increase as much as 60 percent. After receiving phone calls from concerned citizens, Hamilton called FEMA again and learned they still offer a program that offers a second chance to purchase flood insurance at a lower rate that will not increase for two years.
Hamilton hosted another meeting in New Boston on Wednesday to share this new information with the public. This time there was a much better turnout, filling the large meeting room at the New Boston Community Center.
“I think what it took is that finally the lenders started checking the floodplain maps and more people had stuff happening with their escrow being taken to have flood insurance, or their lenders calling and telling them to get flood insurance by a certain date or they’re going to take action. Before, I don’t know if people just didn’t think it was serious; it was out there, but now it’s right in front of them. That’s why the turnout is so different tonight (Wednesday),” Hamilton said.
Joining him at the meeting Wednesday evening was Scioto County Flood Plain Administrator Kendra Hobson, Scioto County EMA Director Kim Carver, Ally Bishop from the National Flood Insurance Program, and Katherine Skalak from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Residents reviewed the new flood maps, asked questions about flooding and insurance rates, and picked up information about the FEMA Preferred Risk Policy Eligibility Extension.
Local insurance agents were also encouraged to attend for information, but only two did.
Information about the program is still available to residents of Scioto County by contacting Hamilton at 740-456-4106.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.