From the Town of Bethany Beach, DE:
In May of this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed revised preliminary flood insurance rate maps (FIRM’s) to all coastal areas in Sussex County.
The preliminary maps for the Town of Bethany Beach show significant changes and are proposed to be adopted in August, 2014.
Currently, approximately 60% of the Town is located in a Special Hazard Flood Area (SHFA). The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) uses the 100- year flood as the basis for mapping, setting insurance rates and applying regulations to minimize future flood damage. The 100 year flood has a 1% chance of occurring or being exceeded each year. Properties in the Town are located in the following SHFA zones:
- VE Zones – (also referred to as Coastal High Hazard) SFHA zones located ocean front and more restrictive construction practices are mandatory. Elevations range from 10’ -13’ above sea level.
- AO Zones – SHFAs where flood depth is 1-3 feet and typical of areas landward of the dune line. Minimal AO zones exist east of Route 1.
- AE Zones – SFHAs where engineered analysis has produced detailed flood elevations and boundaries. AE Zones with an elevation of 7, 8 or 10 feet include properties east of Route 1. AE Zones with an elevation of 6 feet include, the 300 block of Second Street and Maryland Avenue, the Canal, Tingles Addition, Villas of Bethany West, Lake Bethany and Beach Haven Drive.
The preliminary maps show an increase in the SFHA zones to include approximately 80% of the Town. The new maps also include a new designation called the LiMWA line (Limit of Moderate Wave Action). This line delineates areas in the AE zones where properties can still be adversely affected by waves 1.5 – 3 feet in height.
An overview of the changes to the SHFA’s on the preliminary maps is as follows:
- Ocean Front – A decrease in the required elevation in the VE Zones from 12 feet to 8, 10 or 11 feet (except Hollywood Street).
- Areas East of Route 1 – A decrease in the required elevation of properties in the AE Zone from 7, 8 or 10 feet to 6 feet or to an AO Zone with a depth of 1-2 feet. A LiMWA line has also been added along the first block
- Tingles Additions, Villas of Bethany West, Beach Haven Drive, Lake Bethany – an increase in the required elevation from 5 or 6 feet to 6 or 7 feet. A LimWA line has also been added in this area.
- Bethany West and Turtle Walk – Inclusion of most of these developments form a non-hazard area (Zone X) into an AE Zone with a required elevation of 6 feet.
Important references for property owners:
- Property owners can view the preliminary FIRM for Sussex County and compare an individual property address to the effective FIRM at –http://maps.riskmap3.com/DE/Sussex
- Flood Insurance Information – www.Floodsmart.gov
- Learn the details of flood insurance changes as a result of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Reform act – www.fema.gov/flood-insurnace-reform-act-2012
- For guidance on building along the coast – www.fema.gov/residential-coastal-construction