If you find a hangtag on your door in the next week or so, you are likely in the floodway of the North or South St. Vrain rivers. The notifications are to let homeowners know that there will be an important meeting regarding changes to the flood mappings due to the 2013 flood. A workshop preceding the regular Board of Trustees meeting on January 6 was open to the public, with about ten residents eager to hear the preliminary information that might affect their homes.
The mitigation efforts by homeowners, the town, county government, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have altered the flood maps, and the town wants to educate homeowners about proposed changes in a meeting that will be held at the library at 5:00 pm on January 23.
Some homeowner action may be required for changes that were made to the floodways, flood plains, and so-called inundation zones. Altered stream channels, home elevation, property buy-outs, and flood plain expansion will be considered in a series of meetings this year. Weld and Larimer County residents will be able to attend local meetings as well.
Lyons town government is working with Boulder County and FEMA to publicize the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (CHAMP). After review, some properties may no longer be designated as being in the 100- or 500-year flood plain or floodway, possibly leading to lower flood insurance premiums. However, some properties that were previously not designated as being in hazardous territory may now need flood insurance due to the flood.
Much of the work that has already been done to mitigate dangerous situations for homeowners is still preliminary and has to be approved by FEMA. This is expected sometime in 2021.
Flood insurance can only be mandated by mortgage lenders, and not all require it. But Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen advises all residents to keep their insurance, as the flood proved that even homes that normally do not see water damage can be affected when catastrophe hits. Preliminary mappings showing reduced risk do not necessarily mean that homeowners in those areas are safe. Simonsen also reminded the attendees that federal flood insurance covers only the structure and not the land surrounding it. (Owners can get supplemental insurance to cover the contents.)
In discussing the possibility of another flood, Simonsen and other speakers used the word “when” rather than “if.” Simonsen also reminded the audience that flood insurance must be purchased at least 30 days ahead of any disaster. She also stated that even if a home is not technically in a flood zone, excessive runoff from hillsides can lead to flooding.
Homeowners who want to see what the proposed CHAMP maps look like can go here. Related maps at this site include the Big and Little Thompson Rivers and other bodies of water. Some of the interactive maps allow homeowners to plug in their address to see whether they are in a flood plain or in floodway.