Public invited to learn about new flood insurance maps for Hawaii island

Photo: Hawaiiverse

The amount Hawaii island residents pay for flood insurance could change when the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for the county take effect this fall.

Changes by the Federal Emergency Management Agency were made to better identify known flood risks. The new maps will be used for flood insurance, land use, development, and regulatory purposes.

If a property is mapped into a high-risk area (a Special Flood Hazard Area labeled with letters starting with “A” or “V”) on the new FIRM and the owner has a mortgage through a federally regulated or insured lender, flood insurance will be required when the FIRM becomes effective. Property owners who obtain flood insurance before the FIRM becomes effective may be able to benefit from the National Flood Insurance Program’s “grandfathering” insurance rating process and pay a lower premium.

Use of the FIRM is required for the County’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes the County eligible for federal disaster aid in the event of a federally declared natural disaster.

Officials will hold two informational public meetings to discuss the impacts of the FIRM, and help residents make informed decisions about flood insurance options and protection measures.

Meetings will be held in Hilo and Kona on the following dates and times:

Hilo
Wednesday, July 12
Aupuni Center Conference Room
101 Pauahi St., Suite 1
Hilo, HI 96720

Kona
Thursday, July 13
West Hawaii Civic Center, Bldg. G
75-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy.
Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Note: Doors open at 5 p.m., and two short formal presentations will start at 5:30 and 7 p.m. The meetings will be an open house format with multiple stations.

Personnel from FEMA, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and Hawaii County will be available to answer questions, concerns, and provide information on flood insurance and property specific flood zone determinations.

The final FIRMs are currently available for viewing at the Hawaii County Department of Public Works Engineering offices at either 101 Pauahi St., Suite 7 in Hilo (808 961-8327) or 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy., Building D, 1st floor of the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kona (808 323-4850).

They are also available for online viewing on the State of Hawaii’s Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT) here.

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