Woodland, Calif. Homeowners to Purchase Flood Coverage

April 9, 2002

Woodland, Calif. homeowners are likely to soon receive letters from their mortgage letters requiring them to purchase homeowners insurance, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently redrew the city map to include a flood risk in parts of the city, based on potential floodwaters from Cache Creek. The city, which has no previous flood history, now identifies 35 percent as a risk for a large flood, which statistically occurs once in every 100 years.

As city officials discuss the most effective way to protect the city from any potential floods, including the construction of a floodwall or setback levees homeowners will see higher insurance premiums surface.

However, Woodland leaders fear opposition from residents who aren’t willing to pay increased fees, as voters already rejected measures that proposed paying for the construction projects with sales-tax extensions.

Residents and business owners who fall into the zone, which encompasses mostly the northern part of the city, can expect to pay $300 to $600 per year for flood insurance, totaling approximately $2 million a year. City officials fear that business will stop locating to Woodland due to the high premiums.

The Sacramento area flood in 1986 changed data that would determine whether or not the area was susceptible to a 100-year flood, reiterating the strict criteria FEMA introduced in 1984 in the construction of levees and other protective structures. 1995 and 1997 floods in the region further accentuated the risk.

Woodland City officials have spent approximately $1 million in city funds during the past eight years, working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct a study on protecting the city form flooding. The agency will release its formal recommendations most likely in late April, with preliminary results including the construction of setback levees or a new flood barrier.

With the cost estimated at $46 million for levees, with a $3 million a year maintenance fee, and the flood wall estimated at a cost of $28 million, with a $2 million yearly maintenance fee, Woodland residents expressed concerns over a sales tax extension which would help fund the project, even with the Federal Government contributing a portion. Seventy percent of voters vetoed Measure G, which would have funded the project with the extended sales tax last month.

City officials are considering polling residents to see if they are simply against the flood protection measures, or just against the sales tax.

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