Wording on FEMA maps could cost Mid-South homeowners money - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Blair Simmons

Wording on FEMA maps could cost Mid-South homeowners money

Many Mid-Southerners are learning they may have to buy flood insurance because of a one percent chance a levee could break.

Lance and Rita Smith just moved into their new Walls, Mississippi home 6 months ago. They are about 3 miles from the Mississippi River Levee and right in the middle of a 500-year flood plain. They don't have flood insurance but are just learning they may need it. And it could cost them an extra six to eight hundred dollars a year.

"Those levees are class A levees they're good don't see a problem and I don't know if I'd buy it unless I was forced to buy flood insurance," Lance Smith said.

DeSoto county administrator Mike Garriga says the reason lenders are requiring the area to get flood insurance is all because of a new map. On it is a warning that says "communities should issue evacuation plans and encourage property owners behind the structures to purchase flood insurance."

"Damage has been done. Maps have been created. Lending institutions have already picked up on it and there's not a whole lot we can do," said Garriga.

Garriga adds that FEMA is particularly cautious after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina and caused billions of dollars in damage. But he says the warning on the maps are causing BIG problems considering the small chance the levees could break.

Homeowners say it could have major implications on Mid-South development.

"Anytime you're in a flood zone and have to pay high insurance they're not gonna wanna move here!," said homeowner Lance Smith.

DeSoto County supervisors sent a letter to FEMA requesting they change the wording on the maps so they don't scare people and lenders.

But they believe the damage has already been done.

Click here to e-mail Blair Simmons

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