Residents of Bridgetowne, Towne Ranch and a portion of the Park West neighborhood in northwest Lodi may be spared hundreds or thousands of dollars in flood insurance payments.
A new map released by federal officials shows that about 900 homes in those areas are no longer considered vulnerable enough to warrant flood insurance.
But homeowners in Woodbridge may not be so fortunate. Most of that community remains in the flood map, though county officials believe some areas may still be removed and the owners spared the extra insurance.
In a preliminary map issued in January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency placed areas generally west of Lodi Lake, west of Mills Avenue and south to White Oak Way in a flood-control area that would require property owners to purchase flood insurance costing more than $2,200 per year.
But that's changed with the new map version.
"It's just a new draft," Lodi city spokesman Jeff Hood said. "It's promising, it's very promising, but we'll have to see what the final map has."
FEMA is due to release what is known as a "letter of final determination" in October. The final maps will take effect six months later, FEMA spokesman Frank Mansell said.
"We're being cautious," Hood said. "We don't want people to think the city has prevailed at this point."
If Lodi gets off the hook for flood-control insurance, it's because the city's Public Works Department submitted new elevation maps to FEMA, Hood said.
"There will be serious relief for our policyholders," State Farm Insurance agent Pam Aberle said Tuesday upon learning about the new preliminary maps. "They were pretty disgruntled (before)."
Woodbridge still remains as a high flood risk on the FEMA map because county officials have yet to submit new elevation maps to FEMA like the city of Lodi has. The elevation maps are intended to show that the area isn't as likely to flood during a 100-year storm as FEMA officials thought.
If you wait until after the Federal Emergency Management Agency officially revises its flood designation as high risk in April 2009, premiums will cost $1,390 for the same building and $856 for the contents.
If you already carry the flood insurance before FEMA changes its map, your $317 annual premium will go up to $769 annually, which is required by the federal government, and an optional $482 to cover contents. That takes effect in 2009.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
San Joaquin County plans to submit similar maps for Woodbridge shortly, county Public Works Director Tom Flinn said.
"I wouldn't expect us to get all of (Woodbridge removed)." Flinn said. "It would be nice if we could."
FEMA included northwest Lodi and all of Woodbridge in the high-risk flood designation except for the Del Rio subdivision in the flood-control area, plus rural farm areas west of Lodi toward Interstate 5.
Del Rio, off Woodbridge Road, was already off the flood-control map because the developer hired a licensed engineer to certify that Mokelumne River levees would protect the homes when they were built in the early 1990s, Deputy Public Works Director Steve Winkler said earlier this year.
Those who own property that is completely paid off and doesn't have a mortgage are exempt from the flood insurance mandate anyway, FEMA officials said earlier this year.
Currently, flood insurance purchased voluntarily is only $317 per year. Insurance covers a $250,000 house containing $100,000 worth of contents. The rate would go up if the home is placed in a flood zone.
FEMA officials maintain that residents anywhere near a river like the Mokelumne should purchase flood insurance anyway. Mansell said earlier this year that 20 to 25 percent of the claims paid to flood insurance don't live in a high-risk zone.
The most well-known example, Mansell said, is Fernley, Nev., where 600 homes were damaged by flood waters from the Truckee River. Fernley wasn't in a high-risk zone, he added.
For more information on the flood zone maps, visit http://www.sjgov.org/pubworks/flood_info.htm.