New FEMA flood maps go into effect in Henrico; 25% flood insurance discount available to all

Posted at 5:08 PM, Apr 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-25 17:27:27-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- "We got this house and didn't know it was in a floodplain until we were in [the closing] process," Henrico homeowner Caroline Habboush said.

Habboush bought her Henrico home five years ago and has learned a lot about what living in a flood plain means for her and her young son.

Especially about getting flood insurance.

"You wouldn't want to have property damage or anything," Habboush said. "And it's good to have insurance for things like that. But yeah, it comes up over the creek and we have to wade through it and stuff."

The home videos she showed us were shot in January of this year during a heavy rainstorm. But as bad as it looked, it wasn't even one of the named storms that come through Central Virginia every year which are causing increasingly costly damage.

"We can acknowledge that flooding, I think, is probably going to be a thing that just increases. So there will probably be more people joining us in the floodplain," she said.

And that's already happening.

FEMA's new floodplain map for Henrico more than doubles affected property owners, with nearly 7,000 addresses. Anyone included in that map must have flood insurance if they have a federally-backed mortgage.

In addition, the county has updated its community flood plain, a more expansive version of the FEMA map.

Kristin Owen, the county flood plain manager, points out that helps the homeowners they've included decide whether to buy flood insurance.

"If you were in our community floodplain, your insurance premium in general would probably be cheaper anyway because the rates are based on the FEMA floodplain," Owen said. "So when the insurance agent looks at it, they'll think, 'Oh, you're not in the floodplain.' And then you will get the 25% discount on top of that."

Owen says that 25% discount is available to anyone in the county buying flood insurance because of all the flood mitigation steps Henrico has taken.

She says the county will be taking even more steps in FEMA's Community Rating System program, which within two years could mean a 30% discount for property owners. She says the county will notify everyone in the community flood plain of their status and warns them not to wait for an approaching storm to consider insurance.

"Flood insurance also has a 30-day waiting period," Own explained. "So it's not something that you can get like, 'Oh, we have a forecast for a big storm. I need to make sure I have flood insurance.' You have to wait 30 days for it to go into effect."

For a young Henrico County homeowner who lives in the FEMA floodplain, that was never a question. But she says the savings, which Henrico estimates at about $145 a year per policy, are a bonus she appreciates.

"I feel like that's very proactive of Henrico County to be looking out and, like you said, even trying to get more and more of a discount for people who live in floodplains because [as time goes by] there will be more of us," Habboush said.

If you have a question about your property and the new floodplain map, Henrico County has set up a help desk. Call (804) 501-7463 or email

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