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Flood insurance plan back before supervisors

When Tera Lambert’s house near Lake Lincoln was built in 2000,it was above the flood plain.

When the family moved into the house in 2004, it was above theflood plain.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency released an updatedflood map of Lincoln County last year, the Lambert home wassuddenly below the flood level. When several insurance companiespassed on the opportunity to sell her flood insurance, her homelender added $280 per month to her mortgage to pay for a generic,bank-provided policy.

“It doesn’t cover my personal property, it just covers thestructure,” Lambert said. “If something happened, I don’t even knowif it would pay.”

Speaking to Lincoln County supervisors Tuesday, Lambert saidfederal flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood InsurancePlan would cost her family $300 per year – about 9 percent of thecost of her current plan. She can’t sign up for thegovernment-backed plan, however, because Lincoln County is one ofthe only counties in Mississippi that is not an NFIP member.

FEMA representatives have tried to win supervisors over three timesin recent years, each time meeting resistance. Round four istentatively scheduled for the next board meeting on Monday, Sept.20. A mix of enthusiasm and a loss of the will to fight seems tohave county leaders leaning toward FEMA’s favor this year.

“Someone told me we missed a good opportunity (by not joiningNFIP),” said District One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson. “A lotof homeowners out there would benefit from it.”

According to FEMA’s newest Lincoln County flood plain maps, 53.87square miles of the county – about 9.1 percent – lie within floodplains, with Bear Creek, Big Creek, West Topisaw Creek and theBogue Chitto River and its many streams constituting the fourprimary flood zones.

What percent of the population lives in that 9.1 percent isunclear, thought it’s undoubtedly a small number.

If the county were to join NFIP, Lambert and others living inproximity to the sometimes-rising waters would save hundreds ofdollars on flood insurance. Membership in the program also makesthe county eligible for certain grants and disaster reimbursementprograms.

As with all federal programs, membership in NFIP would alsogenerate new restrictions. Supervisors would have to pass newzoning ordinances to enact the program that would add new steps tothe home-building process, with landowners paying for an elevationshoot, buying a permit and submitting plans and undergoing anengineer’s follow-up to ensure the construction is above the floodlevel.

Unauthorized construction – even of simple shacks or deer camps -would be against the law.