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Dozens turn out to learn how flood map will affect them

By Maura Wery

The changing floodplain has the public’s attention. A few dozen residents turned up at City Hall Wednesday to discuss the new proposed FEMA floodplain maps with city and county officials.

More than 400 properties around Wildcat Creek were added into the high-risk area of the floodplain on the new maps, 270 properties were taken out of the floodplain and 132 properties were left unchanged.

City planner Chad Bunger said that most of the people who attended were asking general questions about their properties and picking up information on flood insurance options.

“We want them to get it earlier rather than later,” Bunger said.

Another issue with the proposed changes is the future conditions map, which will directly affect development within city limits. Bunger said most of the questions about that map have come from developers, and his team is currently working on putting regulations in place for new and current developers.

Bunger said he plans to have regulations ready to put in front of the city commission in the next few months.

Most people who came to view the FEMA maps had mixed feelings.

Several property owners were upset that their properties had entered the floodplain, since they’d never experienced any flood issues.

Janette Taylor said she has four properties and was there at the open house to figure out which ones were in the floodplain.

“None of my properties have flooded for 70 years,” Taylor said. “I’m not very happy that my properties are (now) in the floodplain.

Taylor also said that the expense of getting flood insurance for those properties was going to be a huge item.

But there was good news for some property owners, as well.

Floodplain certification specialist Steve Higgins said that the accuracy of the maps, because of enhanced technology, brought elevation into the equation and pulled many people out of the floodplain. Amanda Darrell and her mother, Denis Fangman, saw that their homes had been taken out of the floodplain.

Darrell said she and her mother had been fighting FEMA for months.

“We had to prove a point that we were elevated enough,” Darrell said. “It took a lot of time and stress and a couple hundred dollars to get it appraised.”

Higgins said that the new map is “more accurate than inaccurate,” and that most people who attended the session expressed relief.

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