When flood mapmakers get it wrong, homeowners have to pay

When flood mapmakers get it wrong, homeowners have to pay (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) Brianne Benson's home is next to a creek -- not on one. But try telling that to the folks at FEMA who draw the flood maps.

“FEMA thinks that [the creek] comes right through my property, through the corner of my house,” Benson said.

It's true that a creek used to flow through Benson's lot but, a decade ago, the creek was moved and FEMA was notified. It seems FEMA never redrew its flood maps.

That's a big problem now because it forces Benson to not only pay for flood insurance, but pay a super-high rate because the map indicates that her home is actively flooding.

By phone, officials seem sympathetic to the mistake.

“We've been told even by FEMA and by Riverton City that we're not in the flood plan,” Benson said.

But when she asks FEMA to fix the mistake she says she hits a dead end.

“They say we'll look into it, and then they forget about me,” she said.

FEMA tells Get Gephardt the agency dropped the ball and should have redrawn the map 9-years ago to show there isn't a river running through Benson's living room.

However, bureaucratic red tape makes it impossible for FEMA to simply correct the mistake. Legally, the agency says Benson and Riverton City must reapply to have the map redraw. It’s a process that can take months, or sometimes even years.

It's federal inefficiency that, in the meantime, is forcing Benson to continue to pay for expensive flood insurance that she thinks she doesn't need.

"[The creek] flows maybe once a year if that," she says.

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