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Q&A: Appealing a FEMA flood zone designation

Appealing a FEMA designation

One unit of a two-unit condominium villa was designated as being in a flood zone. The two units are built on the same slab and there is no discernible elevation difference between this building and adjacent buildings. How can we get FEMA to review this?

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, establishes flood zone designations based on information provided by engineering studies.

It does recognize that mistakes could be made, for a variety of reasons, and has an appeals process by which decisions can be reviewed. They are called the Letter of Map Amendment and the Letter of Map Revision. On its website, FEMA writes:

"Through these processes, an individual who owns, rents, or leases property may submit certain mapping and survey information to FEMA and request that FEMA issue a document that officially removes a property and/or structure from the SFHA. In most cases, the applicant will need to hire a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer to prepare an Elevation Certificate for the property. Upon receiving a complete application forms package, FEMA will normally complete its review and issue its determination in 4 to 6 weeks."

To read more, go to www.fema.gov/plan/ prevent/fhm/fmc_loma.shtm.

And remember, the FEMA flood zones and the flood evacuation levels set by county officials are not the same thing.

Hydroelectricity out of spotlight

Why is it that we don't hear anything about hydroelectric power when they talk about renewable energy sources?

It's not going unnoticed. It's just that hydroelectric power has been around a long time, so it perhaps doesn't get as much attention as new technologies.

Maybe it should. Hydroelectric power produced by flowing water is clean, cheap and has a longer economic life than energy-producing plants fired by fuel. The Obama administration is making hydroelectricity a part of its emphasis on finding renewable energy, and new projects are popping up everywhere.

Hydroelectricity already provides most of the renewable energy generated in the United States, mostly from western states. In 2006, the country got just 7 percent of its energy from renewable sources, and 81 percent of that came from hydroelectric plants.

Worldwide, almost 25 percent of electricity generated is from hydroelectric sources. China's Three Gorges Dam project is the largest such source in the world and, when completed in 2011, it's estimated the revenue generated by the power produced will cover the cost of the construction project in five to eight years.

There are downsides to consider with hydroelectric power. Dams fail and deadly flooding can result. And building dams can do a variety of environmental damage, and displace people.

Q&A: Appealing a FEMA flood zone designation 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 9:13am]
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