The flood fixer: Mike Vernon has made a business out of lowering other people’s premiums

In the James City County and Williamsburg VA areas, we don’t have anywhere near the flooding issues that affect the lower lying areas of York County, Poquoson, Hampton, Newport News, VA Beach, Norfolk, and others.

Mike Greaney remembers having one thought as he watched a strange dance of construction workers and hydraulics lift his neighbor’s house several feet off its foundation: I’m next.

No more paying upward of $6,000 a year in flood insurance premiums. No more stockpiling cinder blocks in case he needed to raise a basement bed a few feet off the floor. No more running downstairs with a bleach solution at the first sign of rising water.

 But then, suddenly, he was no longer “next.” No one in Virginia Beach was. The city, which first approached him in 2012 about raising his Lynnhaven Colony house as part of a FEMA grant program focused on homes that repeatedly flood, ditched the initiative this year after it became too difficult to manage.

Now, as Greaney faces premium increases of 25 percent a year, his hopes are pinned on a Virginia Beach man who has carved out a niche by helping homeowners buttress their properties against flooding.

Mike Vernon gets enough calls that he doesn’t need to hunt for customers. But cruising through a flood-prone neighborhood in Norfolk, the self-branded “flood insurance guy” points out some of the red flags: Does the street sit higher than the house? Is there a standing puddle? Does the house sit on a slab with nowhere for the water to flow underneath?

“If one of my kids were to buy a house on a slab in Hampton Roads, I’d be pissed,” Vernon said as he drove.

He and his one-man operation, Flood Insurance Hampton Roads, have become the go-to for homeowners and real estate agents facing rising flood insurance bills. In April, Vernon was quoted in a New York Times story examining the effects of climate change and how homeowners are facing their flood-filled future.

He said he typically has 10 to 15 consulting jobs each month. Now he’s adding small businesses to his roster of clients, and he’s eyeing an expansion by teaming with trusted contractors and suppliers to create a one-stop shop of sorts.

In an area as vulnerable as Tidewater, you might expect a cottage industry of flood insurance fixers. But Vernon’s specialty remains rare: looking at a home’s flood elevation and inventing ways to shore up its defenses, potentially dropping insurance premiums by thousands of dollars.

Read more of the story here

Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each flood zone describes that land area in terms of its risk of flooding. Everyone lives in a flood zone—it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate, or high risk area.

How do I find out whether or not a property is at risk of flooding, and if it is, at what level?
Go to the website and fill out the Flood Risk Profile on the left-hand side of the site.

What is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)?
Land areas that are at high risk for flooding are called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), or floodplains. These areas are indicated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

A home located within an SFHA has a 26 percent chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30-year mortgage.

What is a Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA)?
A Non-Special Flood Hazard Area (NSFHA) is an area that is in a low-to-moderate risk flood zone (Zones B, C, X Pre- and Post-FIRM). An NSFHA is not in any immediate danger from flooding caused by overflowing rivers or hard rains.

However, it’s important to note that structures within a NSFHA are still at risk. In fact, one out of four floods occurs in an NSFHA! Get the facts before you decide that your property is not at risk.

Is there a special risk-rating procedure for coastal high hazard areas (V zones)?
Yes. When calculating the risk of a V zone property, the formula takes into account the ability of the building to withstand the impact of wave action.

Psst. I’m a real estate agent.

This post was authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Richmond/ Hampton Roads area and his expertise helping buyers and sellers in the local real estate market.

If you are a home owner searching for someone innovative to sell your home I would love to share my thoughts on marketing. You can read some of the stories I have written about the homes I have sold here.

Additionally, I have helped hundreds of folks find their dream home/ community and would love to help you find yours in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, VA Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight Poquoson as well as Richmond.

You can text/ call me by phone at 757-254-8136 or email

I look forward to serving your real estate needs!





About mrwilliamsburg

I love Williamsburg !
Being “Mr. Williamsburg” and starting my web site in 2004 has been a great way for me to help people looking for homes for sale, communities and an “insider knowledge.” of the area.
Turned out I was onto something. Because I offer in-depth information and up-to-the-minute blogging, even international clients have found me. One couple, moving back to the States from France, told me that a post I wrote blog about grocery shopping in Williamsburg convinced them that Williamsburg was the place to be, and that I was the best source by far that they found on the web.
I’m happy to say that I hear similar comments from many of my clients looking for homes throughout Williamsburg and Hampton Roads.
I grew up in Virginia Beach, Va, After attending college, I worked at a number of positions including manager of a land development and construction company and business manager of a cut flower business that we grew in sales from $300,000 to $15 million (we were supplier to Whole Foods and one of the first cut flower suppliers to Costco).
In 2004, it seemed like a good time to simplify my life. I moved my family from Annapolis to Williamsburg. I went into real estate with Liz Moore and Associates, and was one of the initial agents when Liz opened her Williamsburg branch.
My sons Zach and Josh attend Lafayette High School and Hornsby Middle School and are crazy about sports and the outdoors.
I feel lucky to be living the dream, and saving two to four hours by not driving on the DC beltway every day. So, I can now spend my time with family while concentrating on learning — and sharing — information about living in Williamsburg.
In real estate, no two people or transactions are the same. Everything’s a challenge, and I’m rewarded every time in close a transaction and have the opportunity to see the smiles on clients’ faces.
Please email or call me for assistance with any real estate questions about the area or 757 254 8136