Comanche County_When you think of southwest Oklahoma, you probably wouldn't think "floodplain." But, last year the flooding got so bad, Comanche County and surrounding counties were declared disaster areas. Now, FEMA is updating the state's floodplain delineation maps. The maps help county officials and local residents identify flood risk areas - a pretty important factor when deciding to buy or build a home.
Last year's rains and floods caused a lot of damage in southwest Oklahoma. But, Comanche County flood risk maps don't show all flood risk areas. "We do have a lot more flood areas in the county than people are aware of," says Comanche County Floodplain Manager Chloe Lewis. She says it is because the maps Comanche County has to use are outdated. "We have maps from 1992 and from 1995 - and that's the last time changes were made."
The county has changed since then, and there has been a lot of new construction. So, FEMA is trying to update all flood risk maps in the county. Some are so old, they don't show new neighborhoods - and, that could be a problem, especially when it comes to getting flood insurance. "A lot of people just assume just because they weren't notified they don't need flood insurance, and they're always surprised when their home floods," says Lewis.
The new maps will be more specific, and updated with exact street names. "It's letting people know that, 'Hey I need to be aware that I may live in a floodplain or I live close to a floodplain, I still need to be aware,'" she says. "I think this is a vast improvement to what we've had before. I think that it will be more user-friendly for people, and I think it'll be more accurate."