January 27, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has initiated the process which allows the public to officially comment on the Preliminary Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) that were issued August 14, 2015. Comments must be in writing and should be submitted to the County by April 26, 2016 to be included in the County’s appeal to FEMA.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is nearing the end of a multi-year effort to update and modernize the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Hawai‘i County. The updated maps will help community officials and local residents better identify known flood risks and when finalized, will be used for flood insurance, land use and development decisions.
Flooding is one of the major natural disasters in the United States. These maps can help residents make informed decisions about flood insurance options and flood protection measures.
The preliminary FIRM maps serve to revise and update information on the existence and severity of flood hazards in Hawaii County. The revised maps reflect the combined efforts of FEMA and Hawai‘i County. The maps are available for viewing at the Hawai‘i County Department of Public Works Engineering offices at either 101 Pauahi St., Suite 7 in Hilo (808 961-8327) or 74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy, Building D, 1st floor of the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kona (808 323-4850). They will also be available for online viewing on the State of Hawai‘i’s Flood Hazard Assessment Tool (FHAT) at http://gis.hawaiinfip.org/fhat.
To learn how to view the preliminary maps using the FHAT, click on the tutorial link provided on the Hawai‘i NFIP Website www.hawaiinfip.org.
PRELIMINARY FEMA FLOOD MAP APPEAL PROCESS
On August 14, 2015, Revised Preliminary copies of the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report were provided to Hawaii County by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA has posted digital copies of these revised DFIRM and FIS report materials to the following Website:
The Preliminary DFIRM and FIS report include proposed flood hazard information for Hawaii County. The proposed flood hazard information may include addition or modification of Special Flood Hazard Areas, the areas that would be flooded by the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood; base flood elevations or depths; zone designations; or regulatory floodways.
FEMA has published a notice of the proposed flood hazard determinations in the FEDERAL REGISTER and will publish a public notification concerning the appeal process (explained below) in the West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune Herald on or about February 2, 2016, and February 9, 2016.
These proposed flood hazard determinations, if finalized, will become the basis for the floodplain management measures that the County must have in effect to remain qualified for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, before any new or modified flood hazard information is effective for floodplain management purposes, FEMA will provide the County an opportunity to appeal the proposed flood hazard information.
Section 110 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (Public Law 93-234) is intended to ensure an equitable balancing of all interests involved in the setting of flood hazard determinations. The legislation provides for an explicit process of notification and appeals for your community and for private persons prior to FEMA making the flood hazard determinations final. The appeal procedure is outlined below.
During the 90-day appeal period following the second publication of the public notification in the above named newspaper, any owner or lessee of real property in your community who believes his or her property rights will be adversely affected by the proposed flood hazard determinations may appeal to the County. It is important to note, however, that the sole basis for such appeals is based on information showing that the proposed flood hazard determinations are scientifically or technically incorrect. The appeal data should be submitted to the County at least two weeks prior to the end of the 90-day appeal period to allow the County to compile the appeals and forward them to FEMA before the end of the appeal period. Only appeals of the proposed flood hazard determinations supported by scientific or technical data can be considered before FEMA makes its final flood hazard determination at the end of the 90-day appeal period. Note that the 90-day appeal period is statutory and cannot be extended. FEMA also will consider comments and inquiries regarding data other than the proposed flood hazard determinations (e.g., incorrect street names, typographical errors, omissions) that are submitted during the appeal period, and will incorporate any appropriate changes to the revised DFIRM and FIS report before they become effective.
If scientific or technical data is not submitted before the end of the 90-day appeal period, the DFIRM may be revised, if warranted, through the Letter of Map Change (LOMC) process, after the effective date. This means that the effective DFIRM would be issued and flood insurance requirements would be enforced accordingly, until such time as a revision could be made.
Any interested party who wishes to appeal should present the data to the County in writing. The County will review and consolidate any appeal data it receives and will issue a written opinion stating whether the evidence provided is sufficient to justify an official appeal by the County. Whether or not the County decides to appeal, it must send copies of individual appeals and supporting data to FEMA.
If FEMA does not receive an appeal or other formal comment from the County within 90 days of the second date of public notification, FEMA will consolidate and review on their own merits such appeal data and comments from individuals that are forwarded, and will modify the proposed flood hazard information presented on the revised DFIRM and in the revised FIS report as may be appropriate. If the County appeals in its own name, all individuals' appeal data must be consolidated into one appeal because FEMA is required to deal only with the County as representative of all local interests. FEMA will send its final decision in writing to the County, each individual appellant, and the State NFIP Coordinator.
All appeal submittals will be resolved by consultation with officials of the local government involved, by an administrative hearing, or by submission of the conflicting data to an independent scientific body or appropriate Federal agency for advice. Use of a Scientific Resolution Panel (SRP) is also available to the County in support of the appeal resolution process when conflicting scientific or technical data are
submitted during the appeal period. SRPs are independent panels of experts established to review conflicting scientific and technical data and provide
recommendations for resolution. An SRP is an option after FEMA and community officials have been engaged in a collaborative consultation process for at least 60 days without a mutually acceptable resolution of an appeal.
FEMA will make the information used in making the final determination available for public inspection. Until conflicting data is resolved and the revised FIRM becomes effective, flood insurance available within Hawaii County will continue to be available under the effective NFIP map, and no person shall be denied the right to purchase the applicable level of insurance at chargeable rates.
The decision by the County to appeal, or not to appeal, should be filed with FEMA no later than 90 days following the second publication of the flood hazard determination notice in the above-named newspaper. If warranted by substantive changes, FEMA will provide Revised Preliminary copies of the DFIRM and FIS report during the appeal period. At the end of the 90-day appeal period and following the resolution of any appeals and comments, FEMA will provide a Letter of Final Determination finalizing the flood hazard information presented on the revised DFIRM and FIS report and will establish an effective date.
If you have any questions regarding the proposed flood hazard determinations, revised DFIRM panels, or revised FIS report for Hawaii County, please contact the Hawaii County Department of Public Works Engineering Division at the following locations:
101 Aupuni Center, Suite 7, Hilo, HI 96720
West Hawaii Civic Center, Bldg D, 1st Floor
74-5044 Ane Keohokalole Hwy
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740