More Lubbock homeowners than ever are being forced to buy flood insurance. That's because Lubbock's flood zones have now doubled in size. There are several neighborhoods that have never before been in a flood zone, but now they are.
Susie Guzman and her husband Manuel bought their house at 55th and Avenue T more than four years ago. They bought it knowing it was outside the flood zone. So, last week when a letter from their mortgage lender came in the mail requiring them to buy flood insurance, they were surprised to say the least. "It caught us off guard because we don't flood here. We didn't have any prior notification from the city about it being a flood plain," says Guzman.
The Guzman's now find themselves in the same boat as several thousand other Lubbock residents and businesses, all of them added to the expanded flood hazard areas. This is the first time in 20 years that Lubbock's flood zone maps have been updated. The 1982 maps included roughly 2,500 properties. The 2002 maps include more than 5,000 properties.
City of Lubbock Street and Drainage Engineer Skipper Wood says flood zones in Lubbock have doubled in size for a number of reasons, but mainly because of new development. "Well, if there's development, there's a new roof, or a new driveway, or street, or sidewalk. There's more runoff. There's more water coming down from upstream of somewhere," says Wood.
Wood says when the new maps were official on September 18th, the city did send out information. "(We) notified by mailing list the majority of lenders, realtors, insurance agents, title companies, engineers, surveyors, appraisers, architects, everybody who should know about the information," says Wood.
Everybody but the property owners who are affected most by all of this. "I definitely think the city could have notified us that we were reassessed and put into a flood plain," says Guzman. Now, the Guzman's mortgage lender says they must show proof of flood insurance within 45 days or the lender will purchase flood insurance on their behalf.
Meantime, they're now working with the city. Wood says he's answered more than 600 phone calls about this since September and he says his door is open to anyone who has questions about the new zones. "They don't have to blindly buy flood insurance. Yeah, they still may have to do it, but let's explore some options, because for most properties there may be other choices," says Wood.
So, if you disagree that your house sits in a flood zone, here are some options:
Susie Guzman says they're certainly going to exhaust their options.
Here's something else interesting. These new flood maps do not reflect the city's $30 million drainage project currently underway. So, when the project is complete this spring, the city must go back and redraw the flood zones again. Results from that study won't be complete for about three years, but Wood says the drainage project will definitely have a positive effect and cause these new flood zones to shrink.
To find out if your house is in a flood zone, you can call the city engineer's office at (806) 775-2331 .