When you take into consideration the recent track record of the Federal Emergency Management Agency dare we say Katrina? it isnt all that surprising that FEMA has determined the likelihood of flooding from the Kentucky River in North Frankfort and along Holmes Street without taking into account what Frankfort has done to prevent floods over the last 25 years.
But in failing to consider those considerable and costly improvements to determine flood insurance rates, FEMA will cost property owners in those areas a lot more money to insure their properties.
The difference is between whether a property is in the 100-year floodplain or the 500-year floodplain. The former is a lot more likely to flood than the latter, obviously, and thus will carry a higher insurance rate.
The City Commission has every reason to be concerned about this proposed insurance rate structure, since FEMA does not take into consideration millions of dollars spent over the last 25 years to construct earthen levees, concrete walls and pumping facilities, all of which reduce the likelihood of a 100-year flood in many areas previously susceptible to being flooded by the river.
The rate structure also jeopardizes the citys plans to revitalize the Holmes Street corridor even as the city embarks this month on an expensive tunnel project to channel groundwater out of the corridor and into the river.
The new insurance rate structure is scheduled to take effect in October, so a public hearing by FEMA March 22 at City Hall is critical to correcting this potentially costly mistake.
It is astonishing to think that wholly outdated maps are being used to set flood insurance rates for large areas of Frankfort. It is outrageous to imagine that FEMA will ignore two and a half decades of progress in preventing floods in those areas.
But again, this is FEMA Katrina and what is astonishing and outrageous just might turn out to be SOP. In which case, the city should be prepared to turn to Kentuckys congressional delegation and the federal courts to bring FEMA and its maps into the 21st century.