Federal Emergency Management officials are scratching their heads and working with state and Lake area officials over what appears to be possible mapping errors that may be throwing some lakefront properties into the wrong flood risk designation, making it appear the properties are required to have high-hazard flood insurance when that may not be the case.

 Federal Emergency Management officials are scratching their heads and working with state and Lake area officials over what appears to be possible mapping errors that may be throwing some lakefront properties into the wrong flood risk designation, making it appear the properties are required to have high-hazard flood insurance when that may not be the case.

The issue follows a lengthy reassessment process that started in 2014, using new methodology from the U.S. Geological Survey for calculating flood flow. The new floodplain maps became effective April 18, 2018. The previous maps were from 2011.

According to prior information from FEMA, the revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps were supposed to lower base flood elevations (BFE) along some of the main tributaries of Lake of the Ozarks. Nine panels in Camden County were updated and two each were updated in Morgan and Miller counties.

The BFE was lowered along the Niangua, Little Niangua and Grand Glaize, but raised along Linn Creek and Gravois Creek. Since the implementation of the new maps, it came to the attention of State Rep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark) — who also owns an engineering, land surveying and environmental services company — that the new floodplain boundary lines were located higher on the shore than the old ones, representing a higher elevation rather the promised lower elevation.

“Unfortunately, many banks rely on these maps to determine if the property they are issuing a deed of trust on needs flood insurance or not. Now many properties that were not shown in the floodplain, do now. This will require many people to get flood insurance where they did not need it on the old maps,” Miller explained.

Miller reached out to U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer who had facilitated the start of the reassessment begun in 2014 and asked for the maps to be withdrawn and redrawn.

On May 8, Luetkemeyer announced he had contacted FEMA Administrator William B. Long in Washington, D.C. regarding the possibility of a cartographic error by the federal agency.

“That potential error has caused confusion among homeowners at the Lake of the Ozarks, many of whom have received letters informing them of the need to purchase a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy despite the fact they have never been included in the floodplain and many of the recently-issued FEMA maps for the area have lower base flood elevations than previous maps,” the letter stated.

It went on to ask that any mapping error that would require the unnecessary purchase of NFIP policies be corrected without further delay, amending the Lake FIRMs “as expeditiously as possible.”

Camden County Floodplain Manager Tanna Wirtz confirmed that her office was working with FEMA, but did not provide requested information on how many parcels were impacted.

Contacted Tuesday regarding the issue, FEMA Region VII External Affair Director Michael Cappannari said Luetkemeyer’s letter was the first they had heard of problems with the new maps. They too were under the impression that the maps would result in mostly reduced BFEs at Lake of the Ozarks. He said regional FEMA officials had not seen any of the letters to property owners that were referenced by Luetkemeyer.

In a followup conversation Thursday, Cappannari said FEMA was still working with local officials, including Wirtz, to “try and get some clarity” as to what exactly happened and the amount of properties impacted.

Letters of Map Amendments (LOMAs) previously issued under the old maps appear to be complicating data on this issue, according to Wirtz. Through a process with FEMA, LOMAs allow certain properties out of the NFIP program through mitigation or proof that structures are out of the high hazard zone though some portion of the property is in it.