Flood plain maps focus of meetings with board, public

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 20, 2009

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is scheduled to meetwith Lincon County officials this week to make another attempt atbringing the county into a federal flood insurance program, anattempt that has failed twice in the past.

MEMA State Flood Plain Manager Al Goodman said his agency willmeet with supervisors Tuesday at 4 p.m. to pitch membership in theNational Flood Insurance Program, a federal program allows victimsof flood damage to receive federal assistance in the wake ofdeclared disasters. He said NFIP allows residents of membercounties to purchase low-cost flood insurance at a cheaper ratethan private flood insurance.

Goodman said his agency will also meet with the public from 5p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Lincoln County-Brookhaven Government Complexto unveil a new set of high-quality flood plain maps of LincolnCounty, created with satellite imagery using laser ranging.

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The maps will allow residents to get an accurate look at theirproperty’s relation to flood plains, Goodman said.

But without county membership in NFIP, the maps will be littlemore than a guide. He said Lincoln County is one of only fourcounties in the state that are not members of NFIP, and MEMA’sprevious two attempts to pitching the program to supervisors – thelatest of which came in 2006 – have been unsuccessful.

“Public assistance is predicated on being a member of NFIP,”Goodman said. “If you’re not a member, like Lincoln County, andanother hurricane destroys a structure in the flood plain, theywould not be able to get assistance. The county is also noteligible for certain grants and assistance. As you can tell, veryfew (counties) are not in it.”

Supervisors did not return calls seeking comment on NFIPmembership. District Two Supervisor Bobby Watts said he wasn’tfamiliar enough with the program to comment, but then made commentsskeptical of the program.

“We’ve got flood plain maps at the courthouse,” he said. “Youcan take that map and it will tell you what you can expect.”

Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey saidmembership in NFIP would require new building ordinances for thosewishing to build structures in flood plains and the appointment ofa flood plain administrator.

Regardless of how county officials handle NFIP membership,county residents can still learn a lot from viewing the new floodplain maps, said Greg Flynn, director of public information forMEMA.

“As we saw with these storms that rolled through the state,there was flooding all over,” he said. “If you sustained flooddamage, flooding is not covered on your standard homeowner’s policy- a lot of people don’t realize you have to have flood insurance ona separate policy. That’s why (NFIP) is such an important programfrom our point of view.”