Floodplain revisions succeed in San Angelo

SAN ANGELO — The decades-long efforts of Tom Green County officials to get FEMA, the federal agency in charge of the National Flood Insurance Program, to revise the floodplain in north San Angelo to reflect more accurate information is finally paying off. The county recently received an official Letter of Map Revision from FEMA. The new floodplain map becomes effective May 3, 2017.

This is good news for property owners in the Green Acres and Mesa Verde subdivisions and North Concho Lake Estates, the Grape Creek Road area north of Cauley Lane and south of Farm-to-Market Road 2105.

Two key facts to keep in mind — when it comes to floodplains — are:

  • Insurance rates, set by FEMA, are based on property elevations and location in a floodplain.

  • Floodways are no-build zones.

“The end result is approximately 550 acres of land was reclaimed from approximately 1250 acres of floodplain,” wrote Kenneth Dees, the engineer heading up the map-revision effort, in an email to the Standard-Times. Dees is the president of Chalk Mountain LLC, the civil engineering company hired by the county for $150,000 to collect the data necessary for floodplain map revision.

The flood-prone areas known as “floodway” have all been removed.  Floodway areas are essentially “off limits” for development and if an existing home located in a floodway is destroyed, the house could not have been rebuilt, Dees explained.  Removal of the floodway designation also removes a burden for development and ownership of the property.

Tom Green County Commissioner Rick Bacon, who represents the impacted areas inside Precinct 3, called this a significant change and commended the engineers for their hard work.

Dees highlighted some benefits of the revision:

  • The entire East Fork of the old floodplain has now been eliminated, freeing it up for future development. “The areas which have been removed will be much more attractive to developers who are pursuing building houses and businesses in this area of the greater San Angelo area,” he wrote.

  • The new data also lowers the base-elevation of properties — representing the water’s surface during a 100-year flood event — by about 1 foot for the majority of the area. Officials expect property owners will need to get new elevation certificates to determine more accurate insurance premiums, which could potentially be lower as a result of the revision. “For property owners who own homes in these areas, the requirement for flood insurance will be greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated,” Dees wrote.

Bacon, who is very excited about the revision, estimates about 50 homes are no longer located in the floodplain.

“After about two years of battling back and forth with FEMA, this was the best option we could get for the majority of the people in the area,” Bacon said, adding his thanks for the support fellow commissioners and the county judge. “I believe this will have a positive impact on everyone there, and facilitate some changes.”