Jenifer McKim of The Boston Globe alerted me to changes in flood plain maps being implemented in Massachusetts.
I have posted here and here about the National Flood Insurance Program. In that program FEMA subsidizes and at time issues flood insurance to homeowners.
Mortgage lenders require homeowners who live within flood plains to have flood insurance. FEMA is in the process of changing its flood plain maps county by county in Massachusetts.
I spoke with Chris Busch, the Executive Secretary of the Conservation Commission for the City of Boston. He informed me that the new maps for Suffolk County (which is Boston) went into effect on September 25, 2009. The changes to designated flood zones are based on better computer imaging of topography since the last time the maps were updated, between 1982 and 1990.
The City of Boston made an effort to contact homeowners whose houses are newly designated in flood plains, because if they purchased flood insurance before September 25 their old rates could be grandfathered in. There are some homeowners whose property was in a flood plain under the old maps but not under the new maps. They may not be required to carry flood insurance any more, but neither the city nor FEMA has made an effort to contact them. Dorchester is the most affected neighborhood in Boston, particularly Savin Hill and Port Norfolk.
Mortgage lenders can require homeowners to have flood insurance even if they are not in a flood plain, if they are in a "buffer zone"--an area outside by near a flood plain.