Communities throughout Fairfield County are receiving updated flood hazard maps as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's nationwide program to modernize Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The Fairfield County maps, currently in preliminary form, are scheduled to become effective on June 18, 2010.

Flood hazard maps, also known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), indicate whether properties are in areas of high, moderate or low flood risk. In reviewing the new Fairfield County maps, many property owners may find that their risk is higher or lower than they thought. If the risk level for a property changes, so may the requirement to carry flood insurance.

There will be a series of flood insurance open houses for Fairfield County residents to learn more about these changes:

April 7 at the Town of Darien Auditorium, Town Hall, first floor, 2 Renshaw Road, in Darien, Conn., from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

April 8 at the Town of Newtown Council Chambers, 3 Primrose St. in Newtown, Conn., from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.

The meetings will allow residents to view the new maps, understand how their properties may be affected and learn more about financial steps that they may need to take to protect their investment. Staff from FEMA and the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection will be available to answer questions and provide a short presentation.

Those who have a federally backed mortgage, or plan to refinance with a federally backed lender, will be required to purchase flood insurance if they find that their home is shown in a high-risk flood area known as a Special Flood Hazard Area on the updated maps. Purchasing flood insurance before the flood maps become effective will lock in the lower-risk zone and could lead to significant savings. Residents are urged to contact their insurance agent or visit to learn more about how and where to get a policy.

Residents should look at the new preliminary flood maps to become familiar with the flood risks in their community and to see whether their flood zone has changed. The maps can be viewed at each community's municipal office. Each community received both a paper copy and a digital copy of the new maps to share with their residents for review before they become finalized.

Communities affected are: Bethel, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Sherman, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.