Hundreds of Portsmouth homes now classified as part of flood zones


by Karen Hopkins, 13News Now

Posted on July 1, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 1 at 5:43 PM

PORTSMOUTH -- People in Portsmouth next week will get a good look at new flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The maps, which were updated in January, indicate flood-prone coastal areas of the city and insurance companies use them to determine flood insurance rates for buildings and contents.

In 2012, Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act to make the National Flood Insurance Program financially stronger. With more storms and sea levels rising, the cost of repairing homes keeps going up.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's raising rates to reflect true flood risk, meaning the people who have to flood insurance will be paying more.

As a result of these map updates, some buildings in Portsmouth may, for the first time, be included in a high-risk flood zone.

"From what we've learned from FEMA so far, Portsmouth is the most-impacted city with the new maps," Director of Department of Neighborhood Advancement Fred Brusso said.

The changes affect several neighborhoods, including Westhaven, Waterview, Glenshellah, Port Norfolk, Lynne Shores, Parkview, W. Parkview and Olde town. Even parts of Churchland that are close to the water will be included.

The Westhaven neighborhood, already part of a flood zone, will see its flood elevation change from 7.62 feet to 11 feet. Russo said this means these homeowners could see their flood insurance rates go up.

Also, people who live along the shore, will be classified as having flooding possible with waves and surge action. That's an increase from the past designation of flooding possible by rising waters.

Portsmouth will hold a public open house on July 9 so residents can learn more about their flood risk.

The open house will be held at The Pavilion at Bide-A-Wee from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Representatives from the State and the City of Portsmouth, as well as FEMA and their mapping partners, will be available to answer flood risk and insurance questions, and explain the preliminary maps.

Learn More: Portsmouth Flood Maps 
Learn More: Virginia Flood Maps
Learn More: Meeting Dates and Locations for Additional Cities

Residents with additional questions can call the Department of Neighborhood Advancement at 757-393-8522.

The City of Poquoson will also host an informational meeting on July 8.  More information here.