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New flood map could affect insurance rates

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Some Jackson homeowners who have been paying flood insurance for years may soon not have to. Other homeowners, however, might have to start paying for flood coverage.

Chris Koehler of Koehler Engineering outlined a new-and-improved Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map to the Jackson Board of Aldermen Monday night at the board's study session.

The map is the culmination of two years and $180,000 worth of work. The study was paid from Missouri Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Federal Emergency Management Agency coffers.

The original flood maps were made in the late 1970s by the Corps of Engineers when computer screens weren't yet full color and no one had ever heard of a thing called Geographical Information Systems, or GIS, an automated map-making system.

Koehler said the study was necessary due to Jackson's growth over the last decade.

Part of what the new study found out was that part of the old study was wrong.

"Some areas will no longer be on the flood map," Koehler said. He said portions of the Corps of Engineers' original study "was off by a magnitude of over 100 percent along Rocky Branch."

He said several homes in the Rosewood Subdivision would be taken off the flood map.

"It's just that the technology is so much better now," he said. "They had such rudimentary computers and equipment back then. The Corps did a good study with what they had at the time."

FEMA will eventually adopt the maps, but Koehler said that process could take up to 18 months. He said it's not likely any homeowner will be able to go off flood insurance until that happens, but Jackson building and planning superintendent Janet Sanders said homeowners can apply for a map amendment or revision through their insurance.

The maps are reader friendly. They easily show what structures would be flooded in a 100-year flood and they differentiate between a floodway and a floodplain. Buildings can be erected in a floodplain, which is defined by the area of land that can be filled in and cause the floodway to rise one foot. The floodway is closer to the stream itself and extensive studies and expensive construction would be necessary to build in those zones.

The Corps will use the new maps to determine the most feasible locations to build basins in the northern Hubble Creek watershed to help prevent flooding in Jackson in the future.

Septic review

Charlotte Craig and Ann Elledge, of the Cape Girardeau County Health Department, approached the aldermen Monday night to request the city adopt the county's new septic system ordinance, which requires that all installers be licensed and all property owners obtain permits through the county.

The new ordinance also closes a loophole and requires that even property owners with more than three acres must comply.

Mayor Paul Sander told Craig that the city staff members will look over the document and come back to the council with recommendations.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635


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