What Kauaʻi property owners and renters need to know about the February 26, 2021 FIRM map changes

Do you own, rent, or in the process of purchasing a property near Hanapepe River, Waimea River, or Moloa’a Stream?

This is a reminder of Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) pending Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates for Kauaʻi County scheduled to be effective on February 26, 2021.

Why should I be concerned?

The flood hazard risk adjacent to Hanapepe River, Waimea River, and Moloa’a Stream have changed. Any property owner or renter in these areas should be aware of the potential change in the risk of flooding to their home, businesses, and/or contents so that mitigative measures can be taken to protect your assets.

If you have a Federally Backed Mortgage (this can include: second mortgages, Home Equity Loans, Reverse Mortgage, etc.) and your structure is encroaching within a Special Flood Hazard Area (any flood zone that begins with the letter A or V), then your lender will require flood insurance as a condition of your loan pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. 4012a(b)(1). This Federal mandate is not a FEMA requirement but a requirement under the federal law that is enforced by your lending institution’s Federal Regulator.

Purchasing flood insurance prior to February 26, 2021 and keeping this NFIP coverage continuous, could “lock in” a low-to-moderate risk designation for future NFIP policy rating. This continuous coverage type of grandfathering can be advantageous for property owners who plan to sell their building because this lower cost policy can be transferred to the buyer. Don’t wait until the last minute, contact your insurance agent today to discuss your options. If you need an agent or want additional information on flood insurance, visit the NFIP website at www.floodsmart.gov or contact the NFIP Help Center at 1-877-336-2627.

If you plan to build a new structure or improve an existing non-conforming structure (where the improvements are considered “substantial”), then Kauaʻi County floodplain management regulations require the development/improvements to be compliant with Kauaʻi County Code, Chapter 15 based on the FEMA FIRMs in effect at the time of construction. Therefore, if the area prior to the February 26, 2021 map change was not in a Special Flood Hazard Area (i.e., high risk flood zone) but will be mapped in a high risk flood zone, it’s important to discuss your building plans with Kauaʻi County, Department of Public Works, Building Division chief and interim floodplain manager, Doug Haigh. It is highly recommended that you read the county’s floodplain management regulations in Kauaʻi County Code, Chapter 15.

For more FAQs regarding this pending map change, visit: waihalana.hawaii.gov/flood-maps

Where can I view the pending map change?

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