EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Homeowners in a West El Paso who saw their neighborhood flood on Monday are confused over whether or not their community is in a flood zone.
Multiple people who live on Hillside Dr. and Magdalena Ave off of Doniphan say they were notified through a letter years ago that they no longer needed flood insurance.
“When they redid the Doniphan Dr. and new drainage system and everything. FEMA sent us a letter that we did not need flood insurance anymore it was all taken care of, so I let my insurance go,” said Gonzalo Sarabia whose whole home flooded on Monday.
“We all did, we all got that letter, and look at us,” said Josie Rosalez whose home also flooded on Monday.
District 8 Representative Cissy Lizarraga visiting the neighborhood on Wednesday evening, telling KTSM crews that residents told her the same, that they received a letter years ago but no residents still have that letter.
“Their homes have been flooded, the sidewalks are a mess, there’s mud everywhere and they’re very concerned and I as a City Rep am very concerned as well,” said Rep. Cissy Lizarraga for District 8. “I think this area should be declared a natural disaster so I will be reaching out to the mayor to see what we can do to get this area declared a natural disaster so that FEMA can come in and help these people. A lot of these people don’t have homeowners insurance I’m finding out which would be the first step.”
KTSM 9 News reached out to FEMA and officials from Region 6 say the neighborhood is in a flood zone.
“It’s in a flood zone the question is what the level of risk is so there are some areas of that neighborhood that are high risk, there are some areas of that neighborhood that are lower risk but there is still a risk there, flood insurance is needed,” said Larry Voice the Senior Engineer for FEMA Region 6.
As for the letter residents say they recieved years ago, FEMA officals say flood zone maps do change but that no area is at no risk for a flood.
“While these houses may have been told that they no longer live inside a special flood hazard area identified by FEMA that doesn’t reduce the risk they are just a lower risk. At no time on a FEMA map will you find someplace identified as this area will not flood because it’s impossible to predict,” said Gilbert Giron the Regional Flood Insurance Liaison.
Adding that the letter may have not come directly from FEMA. Officials say nowadays they may send out letters notifying residents that they are in a higher risk area but not lower.
The City of El Paso says that they are not aware of a map change in that particular area.
“City sends out a notification that their flood zone designation may have changed and they need to check to see what changes may have occurred but not that they are or aren’t in a flood zone,” said Laura Cruz-Acosta a spokesperson for the City of El Paso in an email.
The City says if residents have these letters they can make an appointment with the Planning and Inspections staff at 811 Texas Ave. or call (915) 212-0104.