Minor Flooding Closes Parking Lot at Riverfront

This 2010 photo shows minor flooding on the Missouri River in Downtown Washington.

The city will hold two public hearings in the next two weeks on new floodplain maps for the community before taking final action on adopting the new guidelines.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has set an Oct. 18 deadline for communities to adopt the new updated maps.

According to the city’s Web site, the floodplain maps will be reviewed again by the city’s planning and zoning commission Monday night, Sept. 12, and the city council hearing will be Monday night, Sept. 19. Both meetings start at 7 p.m.

The plan board previously reviewed the floodplain maps at its Aug. 8 meeting and voted to recommend that the city council approve the maps.

The initial plan was to submit the recommendation at the Tuesday night, Sept. 6, city council meeting but the decision was made to hold two more hearings based on FEMA requirements.

The city must officially adopt the maps by the FEMA deadline. If it fails to approve the new maps, citizens will not be able to purchase flood insurance through FEMA’s national insurance program and if there is a flood, the city may not be eligible for disaster aid, plan board members were told last month.

The new maps will replace the current maps that were adopted in 1982.

In 2003, the city requested FEMA funds to commission a new floodplain study following the major flash floods in May of 2000 which caused widespread damage.

The city later commissioned another engineering firm to review data in the initial study. Several years later another engineering firm was retained to conduct additional survey and field work along some creeks that flow through the city.

The new 100-year floodplain elevations on the maps, in some cases, are more restrictive than the old 500-year flood elevations. The flood insurance program is based on the 100-year elevations.

Based on the new elevations, 70 structures currently within the 100-year floodplain would not be if the new maps are adopted. Conversely, about 50 homes and 30 mobile homes would move into the floodplain under the updated maps, City Engineer Dan Boyce told plan board members last month.

If a property changes from low-risk to high-risk under new floodplain maps, property owners likely will be required to protect buildings and contents at a higher rate.

However, under a grandfather provision in FEMA’s flood insurance program, property owners can buy a policy before the new maps take effect to keep a lower rate.

The city is encouraging these owners to talk with their insurance agents before the new maps take effect Oct. 18.

The provision is allowed as long as the policy is in place and the policyholder does not allow it to lapse.

The rates under the grandfather provision also can be transferred to new owners if the structure is sold, provided the policy did not lapse.

Maps Online

The city has posted the new floodplain maps on its Web site: www.ci.washington.mo.us.

The site also has links for other information about the flood rate maps and national flood insurance program.