Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2000

Residents look to city for flood map relief

July 13, 2000

When Mike Davis heard the news his home now may be in a flood plain, he had some concerns. He worried about having to purchase flood insurance and the possibility a storm of great magnitude could surround his home with water. Simply put, Davis doesn't know what he'll do.

"I'm in the dark," Davis said. "We love the house. We plan on living here and staying here."

Davis is one among several families along Bluestem Drive who recently learned of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to revise flood plain maps for Eudora. Hoping to contest the proposed revisions to flood plain maps by FEMA, he is working with others in his community to learn about their situation and see if anything can be done.

"We're going to have a neighborhood meeting," Davis said. "We'd like to find everywhere that map encompasses."

Joe Stober, another Bluestem resident, said he and wife Debbie are working to unite the community to get the new flood plain maps reexamined. To do so, homeowners must provide FEMA with technical data regarding sloping, water retention and other aspects of a selected area.

"I'm going to try to put the job of objecting to the new guidelines on the city," Stober said. "Because they're the ones who have all the data that's needed."

However, they city may not have much to offer.

Eudora City Engineer Matt Taylor said most of the information needed to refute the new maps is not available through the city. Any homeowner wanting to submit data to FEMA refuting its maps must do so by hiring a company to do research. Information must be presented within 90 days of June 29, after which a public hearing will be held by FEMA to determine whether to make the preliminary maps final.

"There's not a whole lot we can do except supply the info that's available," Taylor said. "We don't have the staff or software to support an appeal.We'll help any way we can."

Al Schulz, FEMA regional hydrologist, said there are things the city can do to aid its residents. However, they would take money, a request from citizens and the city to agree to take up the expense of having the engineering done.

"Yes, there are things they can do," Schulz said. "It's going to take money from the community and the city. It's a local decision they'll have to make."

Under federal regulations, anyone living in a flood plain with a loan on a home is required to have flood insurance. Even if the maps cannot be revised to reduce the amount of flood plain in Eudora, there may be be an option to keep the cost from getting too high.

Homeowners who will be in a flood plain with the new maps can buy flood insurance now and keep the same rates even if the new maps are approved. Savings could be as much as two-thirds the normal cost.

"People who buy insurance prior to a new map going in effect, their insurance policy will be grandfathered in as long as they maintain it," Schulz said.

Even with the mapping, Schulz said, there is still no guarantee homes would or would not be safe from flooding. The mapping is merely a best guess to provide flood insurance for potential at-risk victims.

"We do not map the largest flood that occurs," Schulz said. "We map with a reasonable event to regulate to."

Anyone interested in more information of the revised flood plain maps may call Roger Benson at (816) 283-7031.

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