As heavy rains flooded areas of Pinal County near Queen Creek this past weekend, a multi-year project to develop flood hazard maps was wrapping up.
The maps will give property owners throughout Pinal County the latest, Internet-accessible information about the flood risk to their properties.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has developed preliminary but detailed, digital flood hazard maps to more accurately reflect current flooding risks in Pinal County. The new maps are replacing others that are nearly 20 years old, county officials said.
“It’s important that people are aware that everyone is in a flood zone; some are just in higher risk areas than others,” said Elise Moore, Pinal County flood control/traffic section chief. “It takes on even more meaning now after the flooding this weekend and we want to get this out to people to look at their risk factors.”
Moore said the old maps made it difficult to tell where the houses were in relation to the flood plain, but the new maps will provide aerial photographs that make it easier to determine their position near or within the revised flood plain. The flood hazard maps were also shown over 50 or more panels, but now the entire county is on a single seamless map.
“You’re going to know that you’ve got the right place and you’ve got the right zone,” Moore said. “People will be able to look at it online and see how close they are to high risk zones.”
During the revision, more than 200 parcels, many of them without structures built on them, were placed in the highest risk zone. The 110 property owners affected will be notified of the change by mail, Moore said.
County officials said residents and businesses should be aware of how the maps are changing and how those changes may affect new construction and the need for flood insurance.
“We were concerned that the information about the map changes was not getting out,” Moore said. “We wanted to make sure as many residents as possible could find out about the risks and flood insurance.”
To give county property owners an overview of the new FEMA maps, Pinal County is holding three community meetings: one in Maricopa, another in Apache Junction and one in Winkleman.
“Counties aren’t actually required to do this, but we’re going above and beyond,” said Pete Weaver, Pinal County Director of Emergency Management.
During the meetings, attendees can view the maps, provide comments and ask questions of staff members. The recently released maps for Pinal County will undergo a review-and-comment period before their final adoption scheduled for Dec. 4.
For information about the updated flood hazard maps, visit www.floodsmart.gov.
FEMA map sessions
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 at Maricopa High School, Board Room 1, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave., Maricopa
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road, Apache Junction
• 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at Central Arizona College-Aravaipa Campus, Room A18, 80440 E. Aravaipa Road, Winkleman