Mapped Out: Matthew victims lack flood insurance after flood plain maps redrawn

SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) – In Greene County, several homeowners said they were recently told they were not required to have flood insurance. Now, after Hurricane Matthew, they’re out of luck.

“We got a lot of rain, a lot of wind, but once the storm was over a lot of folks thought that was it,” said Anthony Grant, whose home was flooded by Matthew.

Three days after Hurricane Matthew passed through eastern North Carolina, flooding hit.

“It’s just been an uphill battle trying to get money to fix your house because we didn’t have flood insurance,” Grant said.

Grant isn’t alone.

Back in 1999, Hurricane Floyd devastated homes, roads and towns. In the years following the destruction, new flood maps were drawn. Beamon Old Creek Road flooded during Floyd, but was excluded from the new maps.

“It said in fine print that it was not a specified flood area, which really didn’t make any sense to me,” said Ryan Letchworth, who lives on the road with his family.

Each home owner on the road received a letter from the state, stating because the area was no longer considered a flood hazard zone, flood insurance was not required.

“(For) any person with a little common knowledge, well if I could save money, why keep spending it?”” said Letchworth.

Flood insurance would have cost Letchworth’s family $1,300 a year, a big chunk of change to many in the area.

“We live paycheck to paycheck, and last thing I need is another bill,” said Letchworth

Greene County geographic information systems director Brandon Sutton regulates these flood maps.

He said the North Carolina Floodplain Mapping Program redrew the county flood maps in 2013. When the maps were redrawn, some areas that were hit during Floyd were excluded.

“If you’re in the 100-year, you’re required to have flood insurance,” Sutton said. “I think if you’re in the 500-year, which is the outside area you see here, you’re not.”

The NC Floodplain Mapping Program director John Dorman explained how his office drew the county flood maps.

“We look at the water flow in the stream called hydrology, and that hydraulics helps us calculate against the topography where the water flows once it comes outside of the stream,” Dorman said.

The chance of having a record-breaking storm like Matthew were so small, it wasn’t deemed necessary to have the homes on Beamon Old Creek Road in a flood zone.

“What’s the chance of having that happen again in my lifetime? They said 500 years,” Sutton said. “Wrong — it flooded again.”

For Grant and many others, the damage is already done — no flood insurance and not much help.

“I wish I had of had it,” said Grant. “But, you can’t…think back, you just got to live with what you’re doing now so we’re going to rebuild and hope everything works out.”

The North Carolina Flood Plain Mapping Program plans to go back to Greene County in the next few months and will redraw the maps if deemed necessary.

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