Foster City could be dubbed flood zone

Residents may soon be flooding in to insurance offices to buy insurance if new a FEMA map, which declares the entire city a flood zone, are approved.

The long-awaited draft map, just published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, impacts homeowners who have federally insured mortgages, because they will be required to buy flood insurance.

Foster City’s own levees — which protect the city from being flooded by the Bay — are in fine condition, FEMA engineer Kathleen Schaefer said.

Neighboring San Mateo’s levees, however, are faulty and will require tens of millions of dollars to fix, she said. Since the two cities are adjacent, a flood in San Mateo could soak Foster City as well, she said.

The two cities are working together to fix the levy problems before the map is finalized, said Susana Chan, deputy director of San Mateo’s Department of Public Works.

San Mateo’s levee system is riddled with problems, but three areas in particular endanger Foster City: one near the mouth of the San Mateo River, another near Delaware Street and a third near the border of the two cities, Chan said.

A study last year estimated that the fixes for those three problems would cost about $2.7 million, she said.

If those three problems are fixed by fall of 2009 — six months before the map is scheduled to be finalized — then Foster City residents will not be required to buy flood insurance.

kworth@examiner.com

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