2010-05-21 / Front Page

Flood map may be redrawn

400 homes could be removed from flood zone
By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com

Hundreds of Camarillo homeowners could be spared the expense of buying flood insurance if a city-hired consultant can refine federal maps.

The Camarillo City Council voted May 12 to have Kasraie Consulting of Ventura refine details on flood-zone maps used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The contract is for $65,000.

People who own structures that are within areas that FEMA has designated as potential flood zones are required to buy flood insurance. The cost can range from $900 to $1,700 in annual premiums.

Tom Fox, the city’s public works director, said the consulting firm specializes in the flood plain simulation used by FEMA.

Fox said if the work is successful, as many as 400 Camarillo homes could be removed from the federal flood zones. Camarillo homeowners could save nearly $700,000 a year in flood insurance premiums.

“The downside is very small, and the potential upside is very large,” Fox said.

In January the federal agency updated national flood insurance rate maps.

But Camarillo city officials noticed the map indicated pockets of potential flooding in the midtown area, west of Lewis Road and north of the 101 Freeway. Fox said it’s rare to have potential flooding in isolated areas. Elsewhere in the city, FEMA maps show possible flooding in contiguous areas, generally along creeks.

FEMA uses 100-square-foot grids to map the nation’s terrain for the possibility of flooding. Hassan Kasraie, co-owner of the Venturabased consulting firm, said he plans to delineate flood plain boundaries 20 times more detailed than the federal map. He said he’ll try to refine the map down to the level of individual buildings.

“I’m very hopeful that we can do it,” Kasraie said.

Fox said if a refined map eliminates midtown Camarillo homes from flood zones, the city wants to ask FEMA to change its map before December, when flood insurance premiums typically are due.

Fox said he may know as early as July if Kasraie’s work will remove any Camarillo homes from the federal flood map. If initial findings indicate no Camarillo homes would be taken out of the flood zone, the city can halt Kasraie’s work, sparing Camarillo the entire cost of the contract, Fox said.

Kasraie is expected to begin work this month.

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