City Hires Consultant in Push to Remap Flood Zones
An advisory flood map suggests many bayside Ocean City properties are at risk of damage from ocean waves.
City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a contract with a consultant to help revise a federal flood map that suggests a substantial portion of Ocean City could suffer damage from ocean waves during powerful storms — even properties several blocks from any body of water.
Council approved a $63,960 contract with Atkins North America, Inc., to help the city work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as it refines its Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) map.
At issue, is a map that will ultimately determine zones for building guidelines (at what elevation homes must be constructed) and flood insurance premiums.
The advisory version of the map, released in January in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, places large sections of Ocean City, even on the bay side of the island, in V Zones (Velocity Zones), named as such because they would be susceptible to damage from waves of at least three feet during a hypothetical 100-year storm.
The advisory maps are based on elevations but don't take into account mitigating factors such as dunes, bulkheads and neighboring buildings. The consultant would work with the city as FEMA drafts a preliminary Base Flood Elevation map that includes all factors.
A substantial number of Ocean City properties potentially could be removed from V Zones as FEMA refines its maps.
The city considered five proposals for a contract that will extend from now until the end of summer, when the preliminary version of the map is due. At that point, property owners would have the opportunity to appeal before a final version of the map is approved.
Business Administrator Mike Dattilo said some V Zones extend as far into the heart of the island as the city's commercial district. He said the city's advice to property owners who are considering elevating their homes is to wait for new versions of the map (unless they are required to rebuild and elevate because their homes are substantially damaged).