FEMA considers expanding flood plain in Hays, Caldwell, Guadalupe counties

APD's Air1 over Wimberley. (Courtesy: APD)

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — The Memorial Weekend floods destroyed or damaged nearly 1,000 homes in Hays County. On Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs) for portions of Hays, Guadalupe, and Caldwell counties in Central Texas. According to FEMA, the new ABFEs were created to help local rebuilding efforts by helping communities and homeowner understand their current risk and help people build homes safer and more resilient.

The advisory maps indicate how high floodwater may rise during a major flood based on the most current data and latest technology.

Areas of expanded flood risk along the Blanco River. (Courtesy: FEMA)
Areas of expanded flood risk along the Blanco River. (Courtesy: FEMA)

 

The new maps also show areas of expanded flood risk, which is now greater than the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). People who live in the expanded area are encouraged to rebuild to the ABFE or higher.

“We want them to be able to build up stronger, more safe for their families,” said Diane Howe, FEMA Region 6. “And so it’s important they realize that elevation is really one of the key things they can do to do that.”

Howe says doing so would likely raise property values as well.

When the new flood maps become effective, if people build new homes to ABFE specs, it may decrease their cost of flood insurance, according to FEMA. FEMA says homeowners flood insurance premium will not increase due to ABFEs because the ABFE is only advisory in nature and will not raise the cost of flood insurance premiums or change Federal flood insurance purchase requirements at this time.

Property owners who were not previously required to carry flood insurance may be required to when the new flood insurance rate maps are released and adopted.

Wimberley homeowner, Michael Van Pfullman, is likely in the expanded area. He says the rebuilding process has already had several road blocks.

“Ups and downs. You cry over what happened, people’s lives were lost,” said Pfullman. “And then try to get going. Had permits, then they stop you.”

He doesn’t want to leave his home, and plans to abide by any FEMA recommendations.

“It’s the safest thing to do. They wouldn’t do it without a reason, and they have a reason,” said Pfullman. “Live to live another day. Money is important, but life is more important.’

Before any of these maps go into affect, FEMA will be holding several forums and community meetings to inform the communities impacted.

The first open house in Central Texas will be held on Aug. 26 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Wimberley Community Center, 14068 Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX 78676, for residents of the City of Wimberley, City of Woodcreek and unincorporated areas of Hays County.

Property owners can determine the risk of their location here.

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