FEMA held meetings in Key West and Marathon this week to roll out the Draft Flood Maps for Monroe County. These maps are the first look for local government staff, elected officials, and some members of the public.

The maps seem to show a consistently higher mean flood elevation for Key West, while the rest of the County has some ups and some downs. At this point FEMA has not provided all the data that was gathered to develop the maps. Once that data is provided to FIRM’s consultant, Ransom Consulting Engineers, and the County’s consultant, Woods Hole Group, they will be better able to see if there are grounds for an appeal and get a better idea of the overall impact.

In the meantime, FEMA provided an estimated timeline line with the Preliminary Maps expected on December 9th. Then in early January FEMA will conduct a series of open houses throughout Monroe County where property owners can see if there is a change to their flood zone and how this change affects them. The locations have not been finalized, but we can anticipate Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West.

After the open houses, FEMA will take steps to advertise the release of the maps in the Federal Register which will trigger the beginning of the 90-day appeal period. It may take anywhere from 3 to 6 months for the notice to be placed in the Register, and if there are appeals filed during the 90-day period, FEMA will take an additional time to review. It could be late 2020 or early 2021 before the maps become effective.

The mapping study began in 2015 and is nearing the end, but there is no urgency to react to the Draft Maps yet. There is a lot of information for local governments and the consultants to review and fully understand. The City of Key West and the County are working towards making the Draft Maps accessible to the public, and FIRM continues to be involved in the process.

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