Updates to Hawaiʻi Island's Flood Maps

Sep 18, 2017

Kona Mauka
Credit Wikimedia Commons

If you live on Hawaiʻi Island, your property insurance may be changing, and very soon.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has taken a new look at the island’s flood zone maps and that could have an impact on your flood insurance.  We get an update from HPR contributing reporter Sherry Bracken in Kona.  

FEMA engineer Eric Simmons says the entire state has been remapped.  Other counties’ maps are already effective.  He explains the flood map revisions for Hawai'i Island.

“FEMA is revising the flood insurance rate maps because newer flood hazard data is available for the coastlines of the Big Island as well as rivering areas. FEMA did a statewide hurricane coastal study, looking at the flood inundation based on tropical storms. Hurricane studies are being incorporated for coastlines of the southern area, new hazard data has been developed for Hilo Bay, that’s where tsunami flood hazards predominate. Kona side, the hurricane flood hazard is greater. FEMA’s focus is a flood that has a 1% chance of occurring every year, often called the hundred year flood.”

Simmons says new maps consider topographic data, hydrologic conditions, land use, changes in the watershed, and new building. The maps can have a financial impact for those with mortgages. Edie Lohman is FEMA’s flood insurance policy expert.

“For a property owner that has a building that will be located in one of the high risk areas, any flood zone that starts with A as in Adam or V as in Victor, if they have a federally backed loan they will be required to obtain a flood insurance policy for the life of the loan.  More than 90% of loans would be considered federally backed.

“Folks can assume that if they’re going into a higher risk flood zone, the flood insurance would be more expensive. However, they have up until close of business on September 28th to apply for and pay for the insurance in full, then they would benefit from the rate that’s in place before that new map changes on September 29th.”

The flood insurance maps are on the Department of Land and Natural Resources web site. For questions, call Bryce Harada at Hawai'i County Public Works at 961-8042