LEONARDTOWN, MD – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is initiating a 90-day appeal and comment period for its updated Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for St. Mary’s County, MD. The proposed changes are part of a multi-year effort to revamp flood hazard mapping for the county’s riverine (non-coastal) areas.

Starting on or around August 31, 2023, residents, businesses, and community partners can submit appeals or comments concerning the updated maps. The maps have been developed with local, state, and FEMA officials. Affected property owners have started receiving notification letters, the first round of which was mailed on August 24, 2023.

Residents and businesses can scrutinize the updated maps to understand local flood risks and potential changes in future flood insurance requirements. Appeals must contain technical evidence, such as hydraulic or hydrologic data, to support any claim that the mapping is incorrect. Appeals cannot focus on the impact of future or ongoing projects.

Property owners can submit written comments for factual corrections, like misspellings of road names in the Special Flood Hazard Area or incorrect corporate boundaries. FEMA will resolve all comments and appeals before finalizing the maps and announcing their effective date.

Preliminary maps are accessible online via FEMA’s Flood Map Changes Viewer at http://msc.fema.gov/fmcv. Changes since the last FIRM update can be viewed on the Region 3 Changes Since Last FIRM (CSLF) Viewer. To submit appeals or comments, residents should contact local floodplain administrator, Valerie Caswell, at valerie.caswell@stmaryscountymd.gov.

For additional information about the flood maps, people can use a live chat service at http://go.usa.gov/r6C or contact a FEMA Map Specialist toll-free at 1-877-FEMA-MAP (1-877-336-2627) or by email to FEMA-FMIX@fema.dhs.gov.

It’s crucial to note that most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding. Cost-saving flood insurance options are available for those newly mapped into a high-risk zone. For more details, consult your insurance agent and visit floodsmart.gov.

St. Mary’s County Government will host two public forums on September 13, 2023, in the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County Meeting Room at the Chesapeake Building at 41770 Baldridge Street in Leonardtown. These forums will offer additional details on the mapping process, appeal process, flood insurance, and potential mitigation opportunities.

Timeline of Key Milestones:

  • November 22, 2021: Flood Risk Review Meeting
  • November 29, 2022: Preliminary FIRM released
  • January 26, 2023: Community Coordination and Outreach Meeting
  • August 31, 2023: Appeal Period starts
  • September 13, 2023: Public Forum
  • November 29, 2023: Appeal Period ends
  • August 2024*: New FIRM takes effect (*subject to change pending appeal review).

For inquiries, contact the FEMA Region 3 Office of External Affairs at (215) 931-5597 or femar3newsdesk@fema.dhs.gov.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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