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Flood zone changes could impact thousands of St. Johns County structures

Preliminary maps show structures in Sawgrass added to flood zone list

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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be reconfiguring flood zone designations for thousands of structures in St. Johns County, which will affect how much homeowners pay for insurance.

About 10,000 buildings will be moved out of the flood zone and 1,600 will be moved into the flood zone, according to the preliminary map.

Properties in the coastal areas will be moving off the flood zone list, largely because of dunes. But low-lying spots in Ponte Vedra Beach, mainly Sawgrass, will be added to the flood zone list, the preliminary map shows.

Insurance agent Matt Carlucci said he has seen these changes happen before.

“The big myth is, ‘Oh, I’m not in a flood zone.’ Everybody is in a flood zone,” Carlucci said. “People would be surprised at how little the retention ponds actually hold the rain. A lot of people in low-risk flood zones do get flooded.”

Carlucci said anyone who lives in the Sawgrass area or in one of the neighborhoods being added to the flood zone list could see a change in the price of insurance.

“The premiums are going to go up because they’re at high risk,” Carlucci said.

The preferred rate for high-end flood insurance is about $250,000, Carlucci said. That would break down to about $500 per year.

He recommended that anyone who lives in a high-risk flood zone should get an elevation certificate, which will give an exact measurement of how high the property is above the base flood elevation.

That will help calculate the rate and could save money, according to Carlucci.

“Oftentimes, getting the elevation certificate will help you. If you don’t, it’ll go to the standard rate. That can run from about $2,000,” Carlucci said.

Anyone interested in getting an elevation certificate will have to get in touch with a land surveyor, who will then come out to the home and do it.

People living in the affected areas can also call their insurance agent to discuss rate changes.

To find out if a home is impacted by the flood zone changes, check out the St. Johns County’s flood map viewer.

FEMA said it will be holding public outreach meetings in the near future, which will provide additional information on any insurance impacts and the appeal process. The dates of the meetings have not yet been announced.