If you put any thought at all into buying a waterfront home on Lake Martin, there are plenty of things to consider. You might compare the price, size of the home, its view, the privacy, water depth, or any other of a number of factors.
Here’s one that I bet you haven’t thought about:
I know, it sounds crazy. I can hear you now:
Wait, John – Lake Martin is a man made lake, all of that water is held up by Martin Dam. Lake Martin (at some points) is more than 150 feet deep.
How can a home sitting up above the water level be concerned about being flooded? Furthermore, if a home is sitting above the elevation of the top of the dam, how can it be flooded? Impossible!
Nope. Nothing is impossible with FEMA.
Yes, FEMA. That bumbling bureaucracy that brought you Katrina Relief is at it again. They have redrawn the flood maps for much of the tri-county area that stretches over Lake Martin. Bucking a century long trend of technological advancement, this broad brushstroke made their master map less accurate. It threw many more homes into the federally designated flood zone.
If you buy a Lake Martin home and your mortgage company requests certification that the home is not in a flood zone, you would be flagged.
Your options would either be to:
1.) pay for flood insurance (many quotes are at $3,000 per year)
2.) pay a licensed surveyor or civil engineer to come shoot the elevation ($500 – $800) and apply to FEMA for a permanent exemption for your particular home. You show this to the mortgage company, and they remove the flood insurance requirement. Obviously, most home buyers choose this option.
Agreed. If you are buying a waterfront home on Lake Martin, or even refinancing one, you need to budget this money, just in case.
Wait a minute – this is nuts, you say. How can a home that sits above the elevation of the dam be worried about a flood? Shouldn’t FEMA be worried about the people DOWNSTREAM of Martin Dam? That’s like worrying about your little rubber ducky that sits in the soap dish. There is no physical way he can wash away if the tub overflows. He is above the tub.
You are being too logical. Besides, FEMA says there is a “choice” – you can just buy hugely expensive flood insurance if you don’t want to pay a surveyor. Who sells flood insurance? Oh yeah. FEMA.
To summarize: FEMA says that most of Lake Martin needs flood insurance. They can’t tell us exactly which homes need it. They need us to tell them if we need flood insurance, but only if we hire a professional. If we don’t want to hire someone, we can pay for it. They sell it.
It’s a formula that only Yossarian could appreciate.
Read more about the Lake Martin flood insurance issue here. It is a transcript from a meeting that FEMA held with concerned citizens.