Unofficial FEMA Flood Maps Show Fewer Royal Palm Homes At Risk

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood maps have been updated, and the latest version shows fewer Royal Palm Beach residents in areas where they will need flood insurance.

However, the latest maps are not yet available online for people to see whether they’re at risk, according to officials who have been following the status of the maps.

At a recent Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting, Councilman Jeff Hmara said the recently updated FEMA maps, which village officials were able to access, show about 50 percent of RPB homes in flood plains requiring insurance, as opposed to 65 percent in the original FEMA flood maps.

“Village staff was able to pull down some raw data that they were able to then convert into a revised version of the map,” Hmara told the Town-Crier on Tuesday. “This is not the official version.”

The official version is to be available the week of Sept. 8, which is also the time that FEMA representatives will be in the area to conduct a series of public meetings and one-on-one sessions where individuals can sit down with a FEMA expert, look at the map and assess whether they are in a flood zone and what they may be able to accomplish through the appeals process.

“At one point, we were talking about 65 percent of our properties in Royal Palm Beach were likely to be touching or in a special flood hazard area,” Hmara said. “That was on the first set of maps. Well, the latest rough estimate is about 50 percent.”

Once the maps are finalized, it will be left to the individual property owner to appeal the map process through a survey of the actual elevation of the home.

“Just because the boundary or edge of a flood area map touches your property line doesn’t mean that necessarily will cause water to get into your house,” he said. “Usually the houses are built up above that. You just have to prove it through a survey.”

Hmara said he recently asked Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-District 18) whether he would continue to put pressure on FEMA and make sure that when the agency conducts its meetings the week of Sept. 8, he have a member of his staff present to be sure they are amicable and not intimidating to residents.

Hmara also suggested an extension of the appeal period to 180 days, which is currently only 90 days.

“This is the first time Royal Palm Beach has actually been formally mapped, and therefore we have a large number of properties potentially that are going to need surveying,” he said. “We’re not alone, and I think other municipalities are going to be in a similar situation.”

The nearest location for residents to meet with FEMA representatives will be at the Vista Center, located at 2300 N. Jog Road in West Palm Beach.

The old versions of the flood maps, which are scheduled to be updated soon, are on the county’s Division of Emergency Management web page at On the right-hand side at the bottom of the page, click on a yellow diamond-shaped sign that says “Be Flood Alert.” On the new page on the left side is a “Flood Awareness Directory” and the fourth item down is “Assessing Your Personal Risk,” which will take the browser to a resource page, which has a “Personal Risk Directory.” Click on the third item down, which is “Do It Yourself Assessment Tools.”

In the second paragraph is a link called “Flood Zone Determination System,” which will link to the county’s GIS system, where property owners can search by address or their name.

“Those are the flood maps that have already been approved,” said Brian Hanley of the county’s Division of Emergency Management, who explained that the new maps will have to go through various reviews before they are made available to the public.

Hanley said he thought the new maps will still go through revisions due to new data being received, but they will be posted as soon as they become available.

He added that the county’s building department can help homeowners find their house on the flood maps if they have trouble navigating online.