Navajo County

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Navajo County's Efforts Help Get Floodplain Maps Updated

FEMA to Change Flood Hazard Zone Determinations for Areas of Pinetop-Lakeside, Show Low, and unincorporated areas of Navajo County


Posted: Oct 17, 2013


By the end of next year, Navajo County will conclude a major effort with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will result in significant savings to many property owners in the White Mountain region. Over the past few years, Navajo County has been working with FEMA to correct, and more accurately depict, the Flood Hazard Zone designations in the County.

Back in 2008, FEMA conducted an analysis of flood zone areas in the County and many parcels were designated under a category classified as Flood Hazard Zone D. The Zone D category is defined as areas with possible, but undetermined, flood hazards. However, after further analysis by Navajo County, it became clear that many of those areas had lower flood risks and should have been designated as Zone X. The Zone X category is defined as areas determined to have minimal flood risk.

"This has been a long time coming," commented Supervisor David Tenney of District IV. "When we saw how much land was labeled under the Zone D designation, we began to question the validity of the "undetermined" flood risk. Our Public Works Director Homero Vela, really brought this issue to the forefront, and pulled our two agencies together to review the flood zone designations. At the time, a detailed flood hazard analysis had not been undertaken for many portions of southern Navajo County and Homero felt that it was likely that many parcels had flood insurance rates that were too high simply because the flood risk had not been properly assessed."

"All areas of private land that were mapped as Zone D were investigated, and each privately owned Zone D area was examined to determine if any significant flooding sources existed," said Supervisor Sylvia Allen of District III. "The agencies used aerial photography and USGS topographical maps to determine if there was a significant source that could cause flooding. If a source was not identified, the area was changed to a Zone X flood zone."

Why is that so important? The change from Zone D to Zone X should mean a significant insurance premium savings for property owners. In general terms, the change allows property to buy less expensive insurance and see a lower premium on an annual basis. For example, under a Zone X designation a home owner can purchase a 'Preferred Risk Policy' to insure a home for 60% less than the flood insurance policies available under the higher risk Zone D.

"The results have been very impressive," said Supervisor Dawnafe Whitesinger of District V. "During the analysis, over 12,000 parcels were reclassified from Zone D to Zone X, and no parcels where changed to a higher risk classification. That is great news to many property owners, and provides another example of how the County is doing its job and saving taxpayers money."

The new Flood Insurance Rate Maps should be effective on 11/19/2014, at that time a list of the affected parcels will be made available on the Navajo County website.

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