Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fiscal Court hears from resident on FEMA flood maps (Sebree and Clay Maps attached)

Lyon County rejects FEMA maps
by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
Monday’s Fiscal Court meeting was almost entirely about flooding, or rather the new flood maps that the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is asking counties to adopt. Every seat in the meeting room was filled as residents packed in to voice their opinions.
Judge Executive Jim Townsend was in Washington D.C. The court appointed magistrate Tony Felker of Providence to preside over the meeting.
FEMA Flood Map of Clay (click to enlarge)
At their last meeting, magistrates voted unanimously for the first reading of an ordinance that would adopt the FEMA maps, despite the fact that everyone agreed the maps were incorrect.
“We all know the maps are wrong,” said Magistrate Tony Felker. “We are not going to accept these until they are right. At the last meeting we voted to accept this pending corrections.”
Word that the county was looking to accept the faulty maps was enough to get Webster County residents stirred up. While adopting the new maps could result in residents who live in flood plains to get a lowered insurance rate, it also forces some residents with little to no actual chance of being flooded to purchase the expensive insurance.
Many of the visitors who were present questioned the decision to vote on the maps before they were corrected, but according to county officials it would seem that FEMA is not leaving them any other choice.
“If we don’t accept them and we have a big flood in Webster County, we aren’t going to be protected by FEMA,” Felker said.  “We wont get any FEMA assistance for our roads or our residents.”
“The Kentucky Division of Water has recommended passing the maps but going back and amending them when they are updated,” said County Attorney Clint Prow.
He added that the county technically had until the end of the year to adopt the new maps, but as accepting the maps would have a baring on the public’s insurance rates, something needed to be done as soon as possible.
Several residents said that their insurance companies are already charging higher premiums even though the maps have not been adopted and are according to the court “wrong.”
According to Sebree area magistrate Jerry “Poogie” Brown, in his district there are places listed as being in a flood zone that have not flooded since the flood of 1937.
He also added that a lot of work has been done since 1937 to reduce the odds of a major flood along the Green River.
“The fiscal court has no control over the insurance,” magistrate Tony Felker told the visitors. “But we can work with our congressmen, and I think it would benefit all of you to call your congressman as well.”
Eventually the magistrates voted to wait until Judge Executive Townsend had returned from Washington before deciding whether to approve or reject the FEMA maps.
WC Not Alone
Webster County is not the only county having to deal with these maps. After  initially accepting the maps that they had been offered, Lyon County voted to reject the FEMA maps and withdraw from the program.
FEMA Flood Map of Sebree (click to enlarge)
“I haven’t found any county yet that is happy with these maps,” said Wade White, the Lyon County Judge Executive.
White said that he was initially in favor of adopting the FEMA maps because doing so would help some residents get cheaper flood insurance. But his opinion quickly changed.
“After we decided to join this program, people started getting letters telling them that they had to buy flood insurance up on Lake Barkley,” said White. “FEMA mapped in 70 to 80 homes that are higher than the dam.”
White said that upon seeing what they were dealing with, he went to Washington D.C. to get local congressmen and senators involved. At that point FEMA refused to change the maps.
Not long after that the Fiscal Court voted to withdraw from the program.
“If we were part of that, we felt that we were giving the maps validity,” White explained.
He said that more than thirty Lyon County residents have had their property surveyed and gotten FEMA to overturn the decision. That process costs about $500 and takes 90 days.
White says that since, Lyon and Trigg County have gotten FEMA to agree to redraw their maps.
Webster County’s magistrates will discuss the issue again on Monday, February 27, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. in Dixon.

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