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Federal agency updating flood maps
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is updating maps used to determine local flood insurance rates and also by public safety officials to identify areas most at risk for damage from rising water.

David Hainley, director of Glynn County Community Development, said the last time the maps were updated was in 2006. This time, however, he said digital equipment will be used to make the most accurate maps ever made.

The maps are redrawn periodically because flood risks change over time due to construction, development, environmental changes, shoreline erosion and other natural or man-made factors.

The changes send water flowing in new directions, creating flood risks that did not exist previously, according to FEMA officials.

Some Glynn County residents who live in a flood plain, according to the existing map, may get good news once the new map is completed next year, Hainley said.

"Some people will be happy they will not be in a flood plain anymore," he said. "Some people will go in and some will go out of the zone. There will be a pocket here, a pocket there."

The majority of Glynn County residents will not be affected by the new maps because Hainley said 98 percent of the county is in a flood plain.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the nation, with coastal areas being particularly vulnerable.

"Nearly 40 percent of the nation's population lives in coastal communities, so it is important that people know their flood risk and take steps to protect themselves and their property," said Mary Olson, a Department of Human Services spokeswoman.

County Commission Chairman Richard Strickland, a retired Glynn County police captain and former county Emergency Management Agency director, said accurate flood plain maps are useful planning tools.

"They have a great deal to do (with emergency response) if there is a natural disaster," he said. "They are very important."

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