The situation, in brief: The U.S. Army Corps made recommendations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as to how many structures should be included in a flood zone.
The mayor “hopes” FEMA will comply with the recommendations. He believes there is no “fighting” the new maps and the community should remain in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Mayor Joe Whalen wrote a timely guest editorial in The Miles City Star (Montana) April 25, 2008. He notes that the US Army Corps of Engineers recommended that FEMA include 3,100 existing structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area [SFHA], reminiscent of Monmouth County’s and many other U.S. cities’ experience.
He said, “We expect FEMA to act upon the recommendation, endorse a new Flood Insurance Rate Map, present it to the community next fall, conduct a lawful public hearing, and then formally adopt it.” He noted that the city’s requirements to stay in the NFIP, would include “higher flood insurance premiums for most property owners.”
He then asks, “What would be so horrible about slipping out of compliance with the NFIP? The short answer,” he says, “is that no federal financial assistance would be available to anyone within the community for recovery should a flood event occur. . . No loans may be guaranteed by the Federal government or approved by Federally-insured lenders for the construction or remodeling of any new structures within the SFHA.”
“That constraint,” he continues, “would effectively depress property values, end new home construction and restrict home improvement in Miles City. It would also deeply depress our general business climate at a time when our local economy wants to expand.”
Mayor Whalen goes on to say that fighting the new map would be “expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately, unsuccessful.”
“Or,” he concludes, “we can openly acknowledge that our entire community faces a shared risk. We can become informed and explore the range of exposures and options inherent in that risk. And we can wisely choose to develop a course that expands our options inherent in that risk.”