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Flood plain letters giving residents sticker shock

Toward the end of 2013, letters were sent out to property owners who live in areas designated as flood plains. For some, the letters included a nasty shock. Lending institutions are notifying owners that fall within flood plain areas that they are required to purchase flood insurance.

And the numbers aren’t low for some. LaGrange County Surveyor Rex Pranger noted one property owner was given an initial quote of $4,700 per year for insurance. Some institutions are even giving property owners only 45 days to prove they are not in a flood plain or the institution will purchase the insurance for them.

The letters have created a flood of sorts, as people are calling the surveyor’s office with questions. “They want to know what this about and what are my options,” noted Zoning Administrator Bob Shanahan, who is helping field some of the questions.

One option is to get a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment.) Through a LOMA, a property owner can show that their property lies outside of the designated area. If approved, the LOMA eliminates the flood insurance purchase requirement.

Pranger noted that not everyone will be able to opt out. However, property owners can still get an elevation certificate which shows the elevation of the structure at its lowest level of entry, a step that is also required for the LOMA. With that certificate, they may be able to get a lower premium based on the elevation and the calculated risk of flooding at that level.

The owner with the $4,700 premium? With the elevation certificate, that dropped to just $400 per year.

The county surveyor’s office has an information packet available on how to apply for a LOMA.

A public meeting to answer questions on the flood plain insurance notifications and LOMA is planned for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the county commissioners meeting room of the county office building on Michigan St. in LaGrange.