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Changes in floodplain mapping prompts workshops for Vail homeowners

Stephen Lloyd Wood
Special to the DailyNew floodplain maps, used to determine flood insurance requirements, have been issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA. Vail is hosting workshops for any residents seeking more information.
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Despite next spring’s run-off being a whole ski season away, the town of Vail is seeking to help its residents insure their homes against any future flood damage.

Proposed changes to Vail’s floodplain map, including impacts on nearby property owners, will be discussed during two evening workshops hosted by the town of Vail and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

“Most people have nothing to worry about,” says project manager Gregg Barrie. “With so many second-home owners, we felt we had to get the word out.”



The new map is an update from the current 1983 version and will be used to determine flood insurance rates for the various flood-hazard areas in the town, Barrie said.

“Every 25 years, FEMA updates the maps setting the 100-year floodplain, to help insurance companies set flood insurance rates,” said Barrie. “We want people to be able to look at the maps and see for themselves.”

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While every property owner has the option to purchase flood insurance regardless of the property’s location, the map is used by insurance companies and mortgage brokers to determine who needs flood insurance, as well as what rates they will be charged.

Maps have changed since 1983, Barrie said, primarily due to improved technology, but also because experts now have 25 more years of rainfall data which which to make predictions.

“It’s really hard to compare the old maps to the new ones,” he said.



As part of a countywide effort, Barrie said he has sent letters of notification to Vail property owners along Gore Creek and its tributaries. The letter outlines the purpose of the mapping process, provides answers to frequently asked questions and outlines a series of information meetings, during which representatives from the town and FEMA will provide an overview of the process and will be available to answer specific questions.

Information also will be presented on how to file appeals during the current 90-day appeal period, which ends Dec. 5.

“If a homeowner thinks the new flood elevations are incorrect, they can appeal,” Barrie said. “But it would have to be based on scientific evidence we can turn into FEMA.”

In Eagle County, only Vail is going to such extensive efforts to inform residents, as no major changes in floodplain mapping have been made in other towns and unincorporated areas, says Justin Hildreth, project manager and floodplain administrator. Basalt had some major changes, but they were done by town engineers a year ago or so and residents already have been informed.

“Basalt did the mapping themselves, and FEMA incorporated that information,” Hildreth said. “In the rest of Eagle County, there’s no major changes.”

In addition to the Vail workshops, the revised floodplain map is available for review at the Vail Library and by appointment at the Department of Community Development, 75 S. Frontage Rd. in Vail and the Department of Public Works, 1309 Elkhorn Dr.

The map also is available for viewing on the town’s Web site at http://www.vailgov.com., which also contains links to FEMA’s site.

At a glance

Floodplain workshops

Workshops for Vail residents seeking information on new floodplain maps will be held, Wednesday and Oct. 29, in the Vail Town Council chambers.

Project manager Gregg Barrie also will be available for one-on-one meetings with individual property owners during the following series of open house sessions.

– 1 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, in the Town Council Chambers.

– 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, at the Vail Library.

– 8 to 11 a.m., Friday, in the Town Council Chambers.

To make an appointment with Barrie or to find out more about the process, contact him at 479-2235 or e-mail floodplain@vailgov.com.


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