FEMA listened

Published:

Were certain that many people who own homes and businesses in North Frankfort and along Holmes Street especially those planning new development in those areas were relieved last week that a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency received updated information about flood abatement measures taken over the last 25 years to better protect those areas of the city from flooding.

New flood insurance maps used to determine flood insurance rates from FEMA had downgraded North Frankfort and Holmes Street from a 500-year floodplain to a 100-year floodplain. New construction would be liable for higher insurance rates as a consequence.

But FEMA had not considered millions of dollars spent since 1981 by the city and Corps of Engineers for floodwalls and pumping station expansions in making the downgrade.

Apparently, communication between FEMA and the Corps of Engineers is so bad that the Corps did not know of the City Hall meeting until informed by city officials hours before it was scheduled.

This is hardly reason to inspire confidence.

Nor were assertions by a FEMA official that the flood abatement information would be taken into account if it conforms to FEMA guidelines and regulations. This is the same agency that bought 11,000 house trailers for victims of Hurricane Katrina only to leave them sitting in Arkansas for six months because regulations prevented them from being used in a floodplain where, of course, the victims lived.

Were going to take as a matter of faith, however, that FEMA in the end will deal with the people of North Frankfort and Holmes Street in good faith as well. The city of Frankfort is spending millions of dollars even now to further reduce water damage along the Holmes Street corridor, and we would like to believe that investment will be taken into additional consideration the next time flood maps for Frankfort are updated.

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