St. Louis County homeowners forced to buy flood insurance despit - KMOV.com

St. Louis County homeowners forced to buy flood insurance despite never seeing floodwaters

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Credit: KMOV Credit: KMOV

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) -- Jerretha Whitaker has lived in her Velda Village home in North St. Louis County for nearly 30 years.  She says neither her home nor her neighborhood has ever been flooded.

“I lived here in 1993 where everything I thought could flood, flooded,” she says.  “I didn’t see a drop of water.”

So she was confused when Bank of America took control of her mortgage a few years back and told her she was required to start carrying flood insurance.

She said, “I asked them and they of course just go by what FEMA says, that I’m required to carry flood insurance.”

Whitaker’s original mortgage documents from 1986 show her property was classified outside the floodplain.

She’s trying to figure out what changed, and why it changed considering her proximity to the closest river or stream hasn’t changed.

News 4 took Whitaker’s concerns to Missouri congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.

“These maps are quite old,” he said. “Quite inaccurate as a result. It’s very easy for someone to be in a floodplain when they’re really not.”

The congressman recently held hearings to examine flood insurance and the way the national flood insurance program is constructed.

News 4 asked Luetkemeyer what recourse a homeowner had if they want to dispute a floodplain designation.

Luetkemeyer said, “There is a process called a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) letter, which is an elevation certification that says my elevation is such that I don’t belong in a floodplain.”

The congressman believes the system needs to change.

“We’re going to have to find a way to do a better job of getting the maps more accurate,” he said. “And more current data from the very basics of outlining where the flood plain actually exists.”

News 4 also reached out to FEMA.

A representative told News 4 the flood maps in Jarretha’s neighborhood are current as of last year, but that a mapping update is underway in the Cahokia-Joachim watershed which includes Velda Village Hills.

In December, FEMA officials met with Velda Village Hills residents to discuss mapping. Their concerns were noted and will be considered as part of future project planning.

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