Attorney hired to look into Sikeston's actions regarding FEMA flood maps
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
SIKESTON, Mo. -- The city of Sikeston has hired a St. Louis lawyer to investigate the possible mishandling of important correspondence regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency's new flood plain maps.
The city council voted unanimously during a closed meeting July 2 to hire Richard Greenburg of Greensfelder, Hempker and Gale PC. According to the state's open meeting law, the council is permitted to meet in closed session to discuss certain legal matters.
FEMA was directed by Congress to update the 30-year-old floodplain maps as a lot of new areas began flooding in the late 1990s, according to agency officials. The project also included modernizing maps by replacing paper with digital mapping.
City officials are disputing some of the additional areas in Sikeston that are designated as being in flood zones. Council members approved the maps in June despite their reservations in order to remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.
Council members expressed frustration by what appeared to be a lack of adequate notice and information about how to appeal the new maps.
"Apparently there was a meeting that took place on Aug. 5, 2010, regarding FEMA," Councilman Mike Bohannon said. "There were certified letters sent to the mayor that were never received by him that explained how to appeal the floodplain maps and keep new areas out of the floodplain. The city council didn't find out until the 19th of June, after we'd already had meetings on June 4 and June 5. There were four or five certified letters sent that the city council wasn't informed of and emails sent to the city manager on May 31. The city council still knew nothing about it until Josh Bill asked a question about it June 19."