Greensboro, NC-- FEMA flood zone revisions can require someone to pay flood insurance unexpectedly.
For Patricia Davis, the sudden requirement isn't possible.
Last month, Davis, who's unemployed, received a letter from the bank requiring she buy flood insurance. It came as a surprise since she's lived in her Greensboro home for 22 years and it's never been in a flood zone before.
Davis said the insurance estimate was $1,000 for the year and she must pay it in full, up front.
"If you don't have any income at all, how you going to pay one lump sum flood insurance when a flood ain't never hit my property, never! Nowhere near!" Davis said.
Davis, who worked for 30 years, has been unemployed since 2008. Her mortgage is paid for by a government counseling service while her sons try to provide food and pay other bills.
Davis said the bank's letter gives her 45 days to get flood insurance and that's just not possible without an income.
"My children help me. I get food stamps. I just try to take it in steps and it's stressful," added Davis.
It turns out that periodically, FEMA revises the zones that are in high risk flood zones. That means that your home, your neighbor's home, or anybody's home could instantly be considered flood-prone.
According to FEMA, these updated maps are more precise than older maps because better flood hazard and risk data, and the latest science available have been applied to make the maps more accurate.
Additionally, flood risks change over time. This may be due to construction, development, environmental changes, floodplain widening or shifting, and other factors. These changes can send water flowing in new directions, creating flood risks that didn't exist previously, precisely why flood maps must be updated periodically.
In Davis's case, the zone was revised back in 2007, but she just received her notice from the bank in May. That's because lenders are just now catching up with the revision.
If your structure falls in a high risk flood zone, federal law requires you buy flood insurance. However, even if your structure doesn't fall in a high risk zone, a mortgage lender can still require you to get flood insurance.
Davis doesn't buy it.
"I think it's unnecessary. I don't understand the logic behind it and I don't understand why I have to stay here all these years, I mean 20-something years and now all of a sudden, I got to get flood insurance!" said Davis.
As a result of the 2007 map revision in Greensboro, 1,014 more property owners were suddenly required to purchase flood insurance.
FEMA officials told News 2 that all of Guilford County is currently in the middle of a flood map revision. Preliminary maps should be complete by December, 2012. There's no telling what structures will be considered in a high risk flood zone.
If you want to know where your home stands, this website makes it easy: North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program It allows you to type in your address and bring up the map.
FEMA told News 2 that anyone can experience flooding, even if you live outside a high risk area. Flooding is the most common and most costly disaster in the United States. According to FEMA, 20% of flood insurance claims are filed in properties outside of high risk zones.
WFMY News 2, FEMA