In September 2011, Tropical Storm Lee dropped record-breaking rain on the Susquehanna River region of Pennsylvania, producing widespread flooding. As part of the recovery effort, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tasked the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to perform a basin-wide Susquehanna River flood data re-assessment and re-mapping update with the goal to better understand the hydrologic and hydraulic changes that have occurred since the last time the area was studied. The study area included the following counties: Snyder, Northumberland, Union, Montour, Columbia, Luzerne, Wyoming, and Bradford.
In September 2020, FEMA issued the updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for Luzerne County. FEMA only revised those respective FIRM panels that had updated flood hazard information. FEMA has posted digital copies of the revised FIRM, FIS report, and supporting database on the following page of their Map Service Center: www.fema.gov/preliminaryfloodhazarddata. If you do not have access to the internet, you can view hard copies of the maps by contacting your respective municipality’s floodplain manager or by contacting the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority to schedule a date and time for your visit.
Impacted communities in Luzerne County that include at least 20+ properties newly mapped into Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) include the following:
In November 2020, FEMA held a Luzerne County Community Coordination and Outreach (CCO) virtual meeting with community officials to discuss the preliminary flood maps as a result of FEMA’s re-evaluation of the Upper Susquehanna River, ordinance adoption, and to review the next steps in the mapping process. In the meeting, FEMA presented an anticipated timeline for Luzerne County that included the following actions (see below FEMA Flood Risk Study Process graphic under Property Owner Resources):
Further updates, including any adjustments to the anticipated timeline, will be provided on this website when they become available.
Contact a FEMA Map Specialist:
As stated above, FEMA has proposed an update to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Luzerne County, according to an agency press release. A multi-year project to re-examine Luzerne County’s flood zones and develop detailed digital flood hazard maps has been completed. The new maps were released for public view. The new maps reflect current flood risk based on the latest data and a more accurate understanding of our area’s topography. As a result, you and other property owners throughout Luzerne County will have up-to-date, internet-accessible information about the flood risk to your property.
Based on the new maps, your property could be mapped into a higher-risk flood zone, known as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). If you have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender and your property is in the SFHA, you are required by Federal law to carry flood insurance when these flood maps are put into effect. If you do not have a mortgage and are impacted, it is still strongly recommended that you purchase flood insurance as the flood risk to your property remains. Over the life of a 30-year loan, you are about three times more likely to have a flood in your home than a fire, and most homeowners‘ insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to flooding.
Once FEMA considers the preliminary maps final, they will become effective, which means they will be used to determine your property’s flood risk as well as flood insurance rates and requirements. Whether or not your property falls within a flood zone, it is important to use this time to understand your flood risk and research your flood insurance options.
Please use the next two months to review your flood risk and learn about options offered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for properties being mapped into higher-risk areas for the first time.
To learn more about flood insurance rates and what options are available to you, we recommend that you contact your insurance agent.
Act now to ensure you are aware of the map changes being made to the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps and how they may impact your property.