Overflow crowd at flood map hearing

Published 12:52 pm Friday, August 8, 2008

The update to the maps is required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The county has until September 3 to approve the updated maps and remain in compliance with federal disaster programs. If it does not approve updated maps by then the county could face losing access to federal funding in the event of a disaster.

When officials explained that FEMA may not respond if the county is out of compliance one person drew a big laugh from the crowd, saying, &dquo;I wouldn&squo;t worry about it. They&squo;re not going to come anyway.&dquo;

The Polk County Planning Board reviewed the updated maps at its meeting last month and unanimously recommended approval of the maps.

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But commissioner Warren Watson said it was difficult for Polk officials to know whether the maps are accurate until individual property owners check the maps.

Numerous residents said Monday that the maps include properties that should not be in a flood zone, which could force some residents unnecessarily to pay much more to have flood insurance.

Frank Monterisi said his home is about 50 to 60 feet above the Lake Adger dam, but was included in the flood zone.

&dquo;If we have a flood that high it probably won&squo;t matter because the world will be coming to an end,&dquo; he said.

Monterisi and other residents suggested pooling money together to pay for a more accurate survey and new maps to avoid the higher insurance costs.

&dquo;It would be a wise investment,&dquo; said Monterisi.

One man said he had bought property on Horse Creek and spent considerable money making improvements to the land. He previously was advised that the property was not in a flood zone, but now it is included in one, he said.

&dquo;I don&squo;t know if my property is worthless now. I don&squo;t know what I&squo;m going to do with it,&dquo; he said.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners plans to consider approval of the updated flood maps at a later meeting. The county has asked residents to check with the county planning office to see if their properties are in a flood zone.

Polk County Planner Cathy Ruth encouraged any residents who question the accuracy of the maps to contact her office. The Polk planning office can be reached at 894-3301.