Jun 292012

By Sam Conner —

The Winslow City Council met in a special session on Tuesday to hear a presentation regarding completion of a flood plain map revision and submittal of it to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Three options were considered, and the council approved the one which would possibly remove some 900 properties from the flood plain and improve the status of more. Winslow residents pay some $11.2 million in flood insurance per year since the decertification of the levee increased the number of properties in the flood zone tenfold, from 284 to more than 2,800.

Mark Woodson and Jeff Swan of Woodson Engineering presented the program and said that FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would be at a meeting in Holbrook the following day. If the revised map is approved, it will take from six to 18 months to come into effect.

The council considered options of doing nothing, submitting a revision that would require new construction to be raised two feet above highest adjacent ground or a revision that would require a raising of one foot above adjacent ground. It chose the second option as the one that would help the most property owners and damage the fewest.

The decertification of the levees has added a tremendous expense to Winslow residents who must have flood insurance since being put into a flood plain. Persons who have mortgages are required by their mortgage holders to have such insurance. Persons who own property outright do not have to have flood insurance.

The map revision will likely be beneficial to many Winslow residents. Recertification of the levees is a project still being pursued by the city and that will also help, but is probably well in the future. With the map revision, some residents will be removed from the flood plain and others will be in a more favorable condition, which would likely lead to lower flood insurance rates.