“I just found out I have to buy flood insurance. Why didn’t someone tell me that when I bought my condo five years ago?” mom asked in a telephone call. She’d received a notice from the county announcing a meeting with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials. FEMA was updating its flood maps and, because her home is in a flood zone, the county thought she might be interested in attending the meeting. Her condo backs up to a creek, so yeah, we were interested. Here’s some of what we learned.

FEMA periodically updates it flood maps. The latest round began in 2013. Construction, natural disasters, changes in weather patterns, and other factors alter water flow and water levels. This means that land never before in a federally-designated flood zone might be now. To find the current status of your loved one’s property, go to https://msc.fema.gov/portal. Warning: The website is not user friendly.

Homeowners whose property falls within designated zones must buy flood insurance; homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. The government does not sell flood insurance. Private insurers sell it, though not all agents do so. Locate those who do at FEMA’s Agent Locator page, https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/residential_coverage/agent_locator.jsp.

So after the panic, a two-hour meeting, and some research on my part, we found mom isn’t required to buy flood insurance. That’s because she didn’t borrow money to buy her condo. If she had and the government regulated or insured the lender, then she would have to buy flood insurance.