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Flood maps being updated for first time in 30 years

There are new flood maps for the Berrien County lake shore-- it's the first time in 30 years maps these maps are being updated.

Tonight--FEMA held an open house in Benton Harbor to help explain the new maps and the impact it could have on current and future residents--and their insurance. .

The newest map is combination of years of research-- using technology to track storms, changing water and surge levels to give the most accurate mapping of where the newest flood plain is along the shoreline.

Lifelong Saint Joseph Michigan resident, Scott Trumbull says, “It’s confusing to the homeowners especially long term people here to see these flood maps move around like they do.”

Homeowners throughout southern Michigan and Michiana have been battling flooding and erosion off of the coast of Lake Michigan for years--- and recently it's been a lot worse.

Many residents from lakeside communities came out to see if these changing flood maps will affect them.

Trumbell says, “I’m sympathetic for my neighbors whose houses were outside it now inside the flood plain.”

Tonight people were able to see the newest flood map for themselves.

One of the FEMA senior engineer’s were at the Benton Harbor library answering questions and says, “FEMA’s last update was part of the US Army Corps work in 1988 so everything you’ve seen now today is now replacing something that’s 30 years old.”

And see how and if it could affect their homes.

Scott Trumbull’s wife, Margy says, “We wanted to make sure that we probably wouldn’t have to buy insurance.”

The changing flood map lines are adding more coastal properties to the line of fire—and some people may be required to purchase new or additional insurance.

The floodplain management specialist, Mollie Rosario says, “There’s no mandatory purchase. The mandatory purchase, congress mandates financial institutions to mandate homeowners to get the insurance. So even if you’re in the floodplain, if you have a mortgage it would probably be required. But if you don’t have a mortgage, you have more of an option not to get it. Of course we always encourage everyone to get it.”

These changes can impact both homeowners and even developers.

Another Saint Joseph resident and the principal at Prairie Real Estate Group, Peter Colovos says, “It affects property values ultimately in the long term. It will affect how you can develop what’s allowable and what’s not. Whether you need to do more work to a site and raise it above or if it’s even allowable.”

While many people love living the lake life, they don’t want to take chances.

Peter Colovos continued, “We can’t be thinking about just tomorrow but thinking about 20 years and thirty years 50 years and 100 years.”

The FEMA director says that these new coastal maps will be going into effect in about a year and a half.

So if you are interested in seeing if you are affected or not this is the link to the official map.

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