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ConsumerWatch: Storm Brewing Over New Flood Maps

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Capitola, flood, storm, river, mud

A river of mud flows down a street in Capitola, March 23, 2011. (CBS)

Julie-Watts_BIO-HEAD Julie Watts
The recipient of the Emmy and AP Awards for Best Reporter, Julie’s...
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The federal government’s flood maps are getting a makeover and some homeowners don’t like what they see.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has been gradually updating the maps for the past few years. The project is almost complete. The maps show what areas are at risk of flooding. They serve another purpose as well: Homeowners whose properties are in designated flood zones who have federally-insured mortgages are required to buy federal flood insurance.

Katy Dickenson of South San Jose wasn’t happy when FEMA’s latest flood map indicated she was in a flood zone. “Our house has been here for 80 years,” Dickenson said.

She said it has never flooded, even during the worst of the El Nino storms back in 1998. And Dickenson has another issue with the map: “It made it look like our house was in Guadalupe river,” instead of alongside it.

FEMA admits the new maps aren’t perfect, but contends they’re a vast improvement over old versions. The agency says homeowners are allowed to challenge the maps.

Links: FEMA Flood Map Website

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