City considering discussion about National Flood Insurance Program

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Officials: Cost and process may be more than its worth to join

In response to floods on July 7 and July 9 that affected about 30 businesses and more than 20 families in Cassville, the city is considering a discussion about joining the National Flood Insurance Program.

Last discussed in 2002 and 2003, a city must join the National Flood Insurance Program to have flood insurance available to homes and businesses within its limits.

Bill Shiveley, Cassville mayor, said he has not looked at the requirements in a while, but knows once an area is declared a flood zone, it limits new construction and places rules on current buildings to avoid flooding.

"That might limit commercial growth in the future, or change the way the city does things," he said. I have also never priced flood insurance, but my understanding is that if you are in the flood plain, insurance is very high, and most people couldn't get it even it was available."

Shiveley said any discussion or action on the program would be at the discretion of the city council, and members have some trepidations about joining the program.

Alderman Terry Heinz said he is not sure if the city can even be a part of the program now, as it opt out back in the 1970s.

"If we can, I would have to know the particulars," he said. "On the surface, I'd say it's good for the city, but there's a lot of hooks involved, even if it is possible. I think there will be a lot of conditions because there are structures that have been built in the flood plain since 1978 that are not up to standards. I also don't know how extensive the flood plain will be."

Heinz said in 1978, the city opted out of the program because it would have put almost the whole city in the flood plain.

"It will depend on the conditions now whether I support it or not," he said.

Alderman Jon Horner said he has studied the program in the past, and joining the program is not a cure-all.

"It would raise the cost of living because flood insurance is not cheap," he said. "The cost to upgrade and remodel existing property in the flood plain to meet the program's standards would also not be cheap."

Alderwoman Cindy Carr said she does not know enough about the program to have a strong opinion, but believes all options should be considered.

"We need to look at everything, but I also need to learn more about it," she said.

Alderman Jerry Marple said he also needs to learn more about the program before making any decisions.

"I know that last flood in Cassville was in 1993, but I don't have enough knowledge to comment at this point," he said. "If we do join, I know it will make it about impossible to do anything downtown, because any new building would have to meet their guidelines, and I don't 'know how they could do that."

The last discussion about the program in Cassville was in 2002 and 2003. According to Cassville City Council meeting minutes from Dec. 20, 2002, multiple requirements would have had to be met for the city to join.

George Reidell, who was at the meeting representing the State Emergency Management Agency, said a number of requirements would have to be implemented, including:

* Identifying structures in the flood plain only

* Locating boundaries

* Structures built after 1977 would require the lowest floor, including the basement, to meet the 100-year flood elevation

* The federal and state emergency management agencies would look at each case individually to see what action could be taken to help property owners meet the requirements

* Future structures would have to meet the 100-year flood plain elevation minimum

* A flood insurance ordinance would have to be in effect

Without being a member of the National Flood Insurance Program, the city was not eligible for federal grants to control flooding.

A public meeting on the program held later brought fierce opposition to joining, so the city remained opted out.

More information about the National Flood Insurance Program may be found at www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: