Petaluma meeting to go over new flood insurance rules for homeowners

Petaluma is hosting a community meeting Tuesday with federal officials in preparation for the implementation of a new flood-control map that goes into effect next year.

The city and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will be available to answer questions on the new flood insurance rate map that will become effective Feb. 19.

The new map, years in the making, specifies "high-hazard zones" that are in danger of flooding. Property owners in those areas are required to buy flood insurance that can cost nearly $2,000 a year.

A large swath of central Petaluma, including the historically flood-prone Payran area, has been removed from the high-risk designation in the new map, following almost $50 million in repairs along the Petaluma River.

The Payran neighborhood suffered widespread flooding in 1998, before huge steel flood walls were installed to line the river channel. Water reached 4 feet deep on Rocca Drive, which runs along the river.

The Petaluma River is actually a tidal slough that collects rainwater from regional streams and flows through Petaluma into San Pablo Bay.

On Dec. 31, 2005, the Petaluma outlet mall north of Payran was flooded. The Payran area experienced milder flooding in 2007 and 2008 after an abandoned railroad trestle was removed from the channel and the flood walls were installed.

The new map, available online, is color-coded to show a number of properties that have been removed from the high-hazard zone, commonly called the 100-year-flood plain.

Some new areas were added to the flood area. They include two large shopping centers, the Plaza North and Plaza South centers that feature Raley's and Kmart. The centers, which sit between Washington Creek and Lynch Creek, flooded over the New Year in 2006.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Lucchesi Community Center on North McDowell Boulevard.

(You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.)

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