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Choteau residents learn about FEMA flood mapping update

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Posted at 3:21 PM, May 30, 2024

GREAT FALLS — On Wednesday, May 29th, Choteau residents convened at the local pavilion to gain insights on flood protection and updates to the FEMA flood mapping. This community meeting aimed to inform residents about new flood risks and the necessary precautions they should consider.

Understanding New Flood Risks

Brian Vinden, a FEMA representative, highlighted the importance of the updated maps. "Under the new map, we have identified that there are more homes at risk of flooding. This meeting is a chance to talk to community members, answer their questions, and allow them to meet with individuals from FEMA and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) face to face to get those questions answered," he explained.

Expanded Flood Zones

The updated FEMA maps expand the 100-year or 1% flood zone, increasing the number of homes considered at risk. Vinden emphasized the purpose behind the updates, stating, "The whole point of having the mapping program and updating the flood maps is to make people aware of the potential flood risk they have. If they're at a greater risk of flooding, there may be a desire to purchase flood insurance to address that risk. We have folks here from the flood insurance program and from the state of Montana to answer questions and help people determine the right move for them."



Mitigation and Insurance

Vinden also addressed concerns about the potential difficulty in obtaining insurance for those newly classified within the flood zone. "Steps people can take to mitigate against flood risk include landscaping and ensuring proper drainage away from their homes. However, the flood map is based on scientific data from the Teton River and Spring Creek. The primary action individuals can take to address this risk is to purchase flood insurance. The mapping piece is about making sure people understand their flood risk, and the insurance piece provides an opportunity to protect against that risk."

Community Concerns

An anonymous participant at the event noted the emotional impact of these changes. "This is a very emotional time for some people as we have to think through what could happen to our home in a flood," they shared.

The meeting served as a crucial platform for residents to understand their flood risks better and to learn about the steps they can take to protect their properties and families. The involvement of FEMA and the Montana DNRC provided valuable resources and support for those facing these new challenges.