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FEMA DRAFTS NEW VERSION OF FLOOD MAP; AGOURA HILLS RATES COULD DROP.

Byline: Kevin F. Sherry Daily News Staff Writer

After several years of review, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has issued a revised flood-hazard map for Agoura Hills that means about 120 residents can get cheaper flood insurance or end such coverage altogether.

The agency published its new flood map for the city this month. Homeowners are encouraged to contact their lenders and find out what their coverage is and whether they qualify for reduced rates or no longer need flood insurance, officials said.

``Now it's official,'' said City Manager Dave Adams. ``There's a map on file with FEMA that shows they're not on the flood plain.''

Final copies of the FEMA map showing which homes now sit outside the flood plain should soon be available at City Hall.

Most of the affected properties sit in Morrison Ranch along Medea Creek. Homeowners there will save about $500 to $600 a year in insurance costs, said City Engineer Jim Thorsen.

``The property owners need to consult with their lenders and insurance agents to see if they need flood insurance,'' Thorsen said.

One of the factors in the new map was the reconfiguration of a portion of Medea Creek. What once was a concrete channel is now more of a natural stream bed, reducing the risk of flooding to some properties, Thorsen said.

Adams said the previous map, published in 1986, was flawed. ``It was based on erroneous data.''

The controversy over the flood-plain map has been a point of contention among Morrison Ranch homeowners for some time. Some homes that the old map showed in the plain sat 10 to 20 feet above the creek, Adams noted.

The city contacted FEMA, and the agency performed a two-year study of the area, including soliciting comments from the community, said Jack Eldridge, chief of community mitigation programs for the FEMA branch in San Francisco.

``The intent is to try to keep the maps as reasonably accurate as we can,'' Eldridge said. ``The communities do participate in the development of the maps.''

FEMA does not map every square inch of a city and tries to focus on the most densely populated areas near waterways, Eldridge said. Homeowners should investigate whether their homes sit on a location that historically floods, even if it is not designated on a FEMA map, he said.

``Statistically, about 30 percent of the claims we pay are on buildings outside flood hazards,'' Eldridge said. ``We try, but, by nature, we can't catch them all.''

Simi Valley went through a similar flood-map revision with FEMA for several years after a September 1992 map increased the number of homes in the Arroyo Simi flood plain from 254 to 6,390. At the city's request, FEMA eventually revised the map several times, cutting thousands of homes.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 12, 1998
Words:462
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