Missoula and Flathead will be the first two Montana counties in U.S. to have their Flood Insurance Rate Maps digitalized. It’s part of a five-year, $1 billion program by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to modernize floodplain maps in every county in the country. There will be three small areas of new mapping in Missoula County and one in Flathead. Affected landowners will be notified by mail if a new flood study will be located in their area, and public information meetings will be held prior to and during the study.
The maps are used for both insurance purposes, and for floodplain management by city and county governments. Homeowners as well as mortgage companies use them. Digitalizing the maps will allow more information to be overlayed on them. They’ll be available at a FEMA Web site. Lewis and Clark and Yellowstone county maps will be modernized in 2006. Depending on the availability of funding, Lake, Ravalli and/or Cascade counties could also be done in 2006, or will be the top priorities for 2007. The number of counties to have their maps digitalized depends on how much money Congress appropriates for the project each year. Each countywide project is expected to take two years to complete. Preliminary maps will be officially released by FEMA for comment in the summer of 2006, and final maps must be adopted by federal, state and local governments by September 2007. The DNRC will offer opportunities for public comment on the draft working maps next spring before the preliminary maps are released by FEMA.