COMING SOON: New Kauai Flood Maps

A Letter of Final Determination (LFD) was issued by FEMA on August 26, 2020 indicating that new flood hazard determinations affecting Kauai County’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report will become effective in 6 months (February 26, 2021).  Additionally, a Final Summary of Map Actions (SOMA) has also been prepared that summarizes the impending disposition of previously issued Letter of Map Change (LOMC) actions that are in effect (i.e. Letter of Map Revisions (LOMRs), Letter of Map Revisions based on Fill (LOMR-Fs), and Letter of Map Amendment (LOMAs).  To view the LFD letter and SOMA, click here.

If you own or rent a property that is affected by the updated flood studies for Hanapepe and Waimea rivers, and Moloaa stream and bay, then you should review the revised FIRMs to understand  how the modified flood hazard risk can affect your mortgage, flood insurance premium, and/or your plans to build and develop on the affected property.

Why do flood maps change? Flood hazards change over time due to changing weather patterns, land erosion, and construction in and around our community. Updated maps provide a more accurate picture of a property owner’s flood risk. As a result, business owners and residents can make more informed decisions to ensure their personal safety and financial security. For the new Kauai Flood Maps, FEMA conducted new hydrologic and hydraulic studies for Hanapepe and Waimea rivers and have determined that the 1% annual chance (100–year) flood levels are beyond the capacity of the levee systems.  For Moloaa stream revisions, FEMA also restudied the coastal area to allow the new riverine data to tie-in to the coastal flood hazard from the bay.

To better understand this map change, download: ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON KAUAI’S FLOOD MAP REVISION and FEMA’s “Flood Study and Mapping Plan, Hanapepe and Waimea Rivers – Kauai County, Hawaii, dated October 2017“.

How does the updated FIRM affect your property ? Due to updated flood hazards going into effect on February 26, 2021, some Kauai property owners and renters may see an increased flood risk – where the property is now within a high-risk flood zone.  If this is your scenario, then flood insurance coverage will be mandated for properties with federally backed mortgages.  Additionally, if you plan to develop/build on a property that is now designated as a high risk flood zone, then local floodplain management regulations will apply to the new or substantial improvements.  If you haven’t already done so, take time to look at the preliminary FIRM and determine if your flood hazard risk is changing according to one of three scenarios below.

Agent Map Update Fact Sheet:
From Low- to Moderate-Risk to High-Risk

For property owners and renters who are being remapped from the low-to- moderate risk flood area (flood zones B, C, X) to the high risk area (flood zones “A” or “V”), the National Flood Insurance Program offers cost saving options.   If this is your situation, please contact your insurance agent BEFORE the new map becomes effective on Friday 02/26/2021 and ask your insurance agent if you qualify for the lowest cost Preferred Risk Policy.
However, if you are in flood zone D, do not qualify for a PRP, or you miss the Friday 02/26/2021 deadline to apply for a Preferred Risk Policy, ask your insurance agent about the Newly Mapped Program.   The  Newly Mapped Program offers low cost premiums to property owners whose NFIP policy is EFFECTIVE within 12 months of the new map effective date (02/26/2021).  This means that in order to qualify for the Newly Mapped Program, a property owner’s NFIP policy would need to be EFFECTIVE (not just purchased) by Saturday 02/26/2022.  Keep in mind that there is a standard 30-day waiting period before a NFIP policy becomes effective.
After their first year renewal, Preferred Risk Program policyholder’s will automatically transition to the Newly Mapped Program.  There is no action that the policyholder or their agent needs to take except to pay the renewal premium on time.
Important Note:  Property owners who either, do not purchase a Preferred Risk Policy or a Newly Mapped Program policy by their respective deadlines (as stated above) or policyholder’s who do not maintain continuous coverage will automatically lose eligibility for both of these lower cost coverage options.
Please do not wait to talk to your insurance agent if your building is being remapped from the low-to-moderate risk flood zone (flood zones B, C, X, D) to a high risk flood zone (flood zone “A” or “V”).   Under the Flood Disaster Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994, as amended, your lender is required to mandate flood insurance on any building (and contents) that are being taken as collateral for a federally backed loan where any part of the building is located in a high risk flood zone (flood zones “A” or “V”).
Even if you do not currently have a federally backed loan, you should still consider purchasing flood insurance under one of these two options since, under current rules, the policy is transferable to a new building owner.  Doing so would also satisfy any future lender transaction in the future (refinance, home equity loan, second mortgage etc).  The amount of coverage can be adjusted according to your individual lender’s requirements.

Agent Map Update Fact Sheet:
From High-Risk to Low- to Moderate-Risk

Property owners experiencing a decrease in flood risk – from the high-risk flood area to the low- to- moderate- risk area – likely qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). Most properties in the low- to moderate- risk areas will qualify for the PRP. It’s available for homeowners, business owners, and renters.  Although flood insurance is no longer federally required when a home or business is recently identified as being in the low- to moderate- risk area, mortgage lenders can still require coverage.  Over 20 percent of NFIP flood insurance claims come from areas outside of high-risk flood zones. Stay covered and save money !

The Preferred Risk Policy for Homeowners and Renters Fact Sheet

The Preferred Risk Policy for Businesses Fact Sheet

Agent Map Update Fact Sheet:
From High-Risk to Higher-Risk

If the new flood maps results in a property’s flood risk increasing from a high-risk to higher-risk, then property owners should talk to your insurance agent before the updated FIRMs go into effect on February 26, 2021.  The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers cost-saving options through grandfathering. For individuals who secure or maintain coverage prior to February 26, 2021, the current FIRM can be used to “lock in” the lower-risk flood zone or BFE for rating purposes. This continuous coverage grandfathering option can be advantageous for property owners who sell the property in the future because a grandfathered policy can be transferred to new owners.  Built-in-compliance grandfathering option is available for buildings constructed after Kauai’s first FIRM was issued on November 4,1981.  Property owners must have documentation that demonstrates the structure was built in compliance with the FIRM at the time of construction.  Click here, for examples of continuous and built-in-compliance grandfathering.

 

Where can I view the preliminary FIS and FIRM ? There are several resources available to view the updated flood hazard data for Kauai County’s physical map revision (PMR) scheduled to go effective on February 26, 2021.

As part of the PMR process to update several Kauai FIRM panels, FEMA performed engineering studies for Hanapepe and Waimea rivers, and Moloaa stream and bay.  These studies are called a Flood Insurance Study (FIS).  The results of the FIS are shown on  the FIRMs.   The preliminary FIS reports (Volume 1 and 2) for the February 26, 2021 PMR can be downloaded by clicking on the following links: 

Preliminary Flood Insurance Study, Kauai County, Volume 1

Preliminary Flood Insurance Study, Kauai County, Volume 2

To view comparison maps between the current FIRMs and the newly updated flood hazards data scheduled to become effective February 26, 2021, click on the affected streams:

Hanapepe River

Waimea River

Moloaa Stream

 

To look up a specific address or TMK, use the Hawaii Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT). Users can access the FHAT and watch a video tutorial on viewing the preliminary FIRM overlaid on the current effective FIRM to see the impending changes to the flood map by visiting: https://dlnreng.hawaii.gov/nfip/floodmaps/

To access more flood hazard data products, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (msc.fema.gov). To check product availability in your area, select “Search All Products” and filter your selection by State, county, and/or community.

Who can I talk to about a proposed project that will be affected by the updated flood hazard data?  As part of the PMR process, FEMA requires Kauai County to update Chapter 15 of Kauai County Code to be consistent (at a minimum) with NFIP regulations as set forth in Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations §60.3.  Therefore, it’s important that property owners discuss affected projects with Kauai’s Floodplain Manager:

Stanford Iwamoto, P.E., CFM 
Department of Public Works
Engineering Division
4444 Rice Street Suite 175
Lihue , Hawaii 96766
(808) 241-4896