The national rollout of new FEMA flood zone maps, known as "Flood Insurance Rate Maps" or "FIRMs," has been a protracted process around the nation's coastlines and inland waterways. FEMA can take years to process the data needed to create a new map of flood-prone terrain, and after the agency proposes a new map, appeals and re-drafting typically create further delays.

In Palm Beach County, Florida, that process has been underway for a while. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel, according to a report in the Sun Sentinel (see: "FEMA: Palm Beach County's new flood zone maps now projected for August 2017," by Ron Hurtibise. "FEMA spokesman Danon Lucas said letters were mailed to community leaders on Monday that start the clock toward adoption of the first new flood maps in the county since the 1980s," the paper reported. "The FEMA letters included revised map drawings that community officials will study to determine whether requested revisions were made, said Ken Todd, Palm Beach County water resource manager."

But it's not over till the manatee sings, officials note: "The timetable has been revised numerous times by FEMA. In early March, an agency spokesman said the new maps could be in effect by the end of 2016. In late April, that estimate was pushed up to spring 2017," the paper reported. "And further delays are possible, FEMA spokesman Danon Lucas said in an email, if local officials request more revisions. 'The timeline depends on what comments come in during the 30-day comment period, and how long it will take to address them,' he said."

Earlier appeals by local officials have saved residents money on flood insurance premiums, the Sun Sentinel reported in May (see: "How Palm Beach County saved residents millions of dollars by fighting FEMA on flood maps," by Ron Hurtibise).