Federal officials are close to approving revised flood plain maps for Gilleland Creek, which stretches from Williamson County to the Colorado River, affecting about 194 homes and 60 other buildings in Pflugerville as well as nearby areas.
Gilleland Creek also crawls through Austin, Manor and Round Rock, but the revisions — the result of improved surveying technology — mostly affect the city of Pflugerville. Blake Overmyer, Pflugerville’s flood plain administrator, said the revisions remove 60 Pflugerville homes from the Gilleland 100-year flood plain. However, 75 others will be moved into the flood plain.
A 100-year flood plain refers to land where a flood has a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year.
Overmyer said the changes will affect Springbrook Meadows, also known as Springbrook Centre, a subdivision that was annexed by the city of Pflugerville in 2007.
Work on revisions for Gilleland Creek were ready for review in 2008. However, budget cuts delayed the process. Officials now say the Federal Emergency Management Agency could approve the revised maps late this year.
Officials in Austin and Pflugerville say they want to make sure residents fully understand the devastation and financial dangers a flood can cause a homeowner.
This week, the city of Austin launched a website about a new online tool, FloodPro, that will allow residents to check flood risks for various area properties. FloodPro includes predictions for flood elevations.
“Part of the purpose of doing the study is to get the word out,” Austin Floodplain Administrator Kevin Shunk said.
Allen Connally, 56, bought his one-story house on Jerusalem Drive in Springbrook Meadows in Pflugerville in the late 1990s.
His home initially wasn’t in the flood plain, but now it is.
Connally said he bought flood insurance years ago. With one payment left on his mortgage, he said he’s trying to determine if he should continue spending $650 a year for flood insurance, especially when there hasn’t been any serious flooding on his street since he’s lived there. The average flood insurance policy costs homeowners about $600 per year, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.
Connally said he’s worried his property value will plummet after the flood plain map revisions go into effect.
“I’ll probably never be able to sell my house,” he said.
After the map revisions are approved, Shunk said it’s up to lenders and mortgage companies, not the city or county, to contact homeowners if flood insurance is required. Property owners who have paid off their mortgages in the past three years may not find out about the changes without contacting the city of Pflugerville’s Development Service Department.
Pflugerville officials say they have worked to lower flood insurance premiums for homeowners by designating some land in flood plains as open space and parks.
Pflugerville property owners in the Gilleland Creek area who have questions about the flood plain map revisions should refer to the city’s website, www.pflugervilletx.gov, or visit the city’s Development Services Department at 201-B E. Pecan St. or call 512-990-6320.
Another option is to visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, www.fema.gov, or use the FloodPro online tool through the city of Austin’s website, www.austintexas.gov/floodpro.