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Flood map update may change insurance

Published 10:51am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An updated flood plain zoning map will change which Austin residents who live in flood plain areas pay for flood insurance.

The Austin Planning Commission approved an updated flood plain ordinance and flood plain zoning map during its monthly meeting Tuesday, part of a state-mandated update across Minnesota.

Forty-four parcels within Austin are now part of the flood plain, according to Community Development Director Craig Hoium. Hoium told the commission that includes 12 to 14 houses. He said other properties were removed from the flood plain but didn’t have an exact count.

The changes come as part of electronic elevation mapping by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after the 2007 floods in southeast Minnesota. State legislators funded the study in order to update Minnesota’s land and flood elevations.

About 50 counties, including Mower, will have to update their flood plain zoning maps over the next few years.

The updated map means some flood insurance changes for residents living near the Cedar River and Turtle Creek. Some residents will see their flood insurance rates rise or fall based on the new map, while others will either start or stop paying for flood insurance. The city’s last flood plain map was created in 1988.

Some residents are concerned the flood plain map changes will mean more changes to the city’s flood mitigation plans. More than 20 residents attended the commission meeting Wednesday, with several speaking out about flood mitigation concerns. Hoium and Public Works Director Steven Lang stressed the flood plain maps had nothing to do with the city’s flood mitigation efforts.

The Austin City Council is expected to review and approve the updated ordinance and flood plain maps at its upcoming meeting next Monday, with the ordinance and maps to take effect in early September. Hoium said the city will verify the new elevation levels for residents affected by the changed map and adjust the map accordingly.

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