At least one Christian Springs Road resident -- with the help of Lower Nazareth Township -- plans to appeal a new floodplain map released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Claude Beck, who lives on the 4200 block of Christian Springs Road, expressed concern over preliminary changes, which puts his home in a flood-prone area and will mean an increase in insurance rates.
“The federal government can force me [to purchase flood insurance] because of the kind of mortgage I have,” Beck explained during the Aug. 12 meeting of the Lower Nazareth Board of Supervisors.
He's not alone.
A new FEMA study puts the homes of hundreds of Northampton County residents within newly designated flood-prone areas.
While the preliminary map is subject to revisions and resident appeals, according to a report in The Morning Call, the latest flood-hazard study also updates regional insurance rate maps.
“Some areas that were not in a flood zone on the prior map are now in a flood zone," added Timm Tenges, manager of Lower Nazareth. "Others that used to be in flood zone now are not."
The township, however, is alerting homeowners to the changes so they aren’t caught off guard.
“FEMA allows municipalities to voluntarily notify constituents,” Tenges said, adding that FEMA does not notify residents when changes are made.
Lower Nazareth posted the new maps on its website and utilized a template provided by FEMA to compose a letter that was sent to residents.
"We thought it was a good idea to send these [letters] out as a courtesy," Tenges said. “We don’t want anyone to get caught without insurance.”
While Beck expressed appreciation for the township notifying its residents, each homeowner is responsible for gathering necessary documentation and challenging FEMA's decision.
Again, he needed the township's help.
For use in his appeal, Beck requested copies of blueprints and elevation plans from ongoing work along Christian Springs Road. He hopes that by showing recent construction to elevate the road and improve drainage in the area, his time on the floodplain map will be short-lived.
Supervisors agreed to Beck’s request. But while the township engineer would provide copies of available plans, the township will not authorize further flood-zone studies.