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  [email protected]

I look forward to serving your real estate needs!





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