By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – A public hearing scheduled Thursday, August 27, will provide provide the public with an opportunity to review the recently completed preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) and its accompanying preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that include base flood information and identification of areas subject to flood hazards within the county.
The hearing, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Multi-purpose Building in Coffeeville may also mark the starting footwork for the county to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Currently the county does not participate in the NFIP, although the City of Water Valley and Town of Coffeeville both participate.
“I know why y’all gave me this job,” Yalobusha EMA Director Frank Hyde joked with supervisors as he updated them about the public hearing which has been scheduled by Mississippi Floodplain Coordinator Stacey Ricks.
“To be NFIB approved, this has to take place,” Hyde said.
“We got a letter from Ricks and it spells out what can happen if we do not participate,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn also told supervisors. Ricks’ letter outlined three ramifications if the county chooses not to participate, including:
• Flood insurance will no longer be available in the county;
• No federal grants or loans for buildings identified as being in the special flood hazard area will be available; and
• No federal disaster assistance may be provided in the identified areas for permanant construction.
With these restrictions, McMinn cited one potential problem identified by state officials involving federal aid if a tornado damaged homes in the flood zone.
“The people inside the city can get (federal disaster) help, but the ones in the county could not,” McMinn explained.
“You can imagine what that would be like,” Supervisor Amos Sims replied.
Hyde also told supervisors that if they decide to participate in the NFIP, existing structures will be grandfathered in.
“The catch to that, if (an existing homeowner in the flood plain) decided to do over 50 percent improvements, then they would have to bring the other up to compliance,” Hyde continued. “It is not that many (in the flood plain.) A lot of the homes that are actually in the flood plain would qualify. A mobile home is exempt,” Hyde added.
The Mississippi Flood Map Modernization Initiative Team will host the hearing. The team, which includes representatives from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and Mississippi Geographic Information LLC, will be available to address questions from the public.
The maps for Yalobusha County and its incorporated communities are also available for viewing at the MDEQ web site (click here).
Local and state officials will be present to provide information about flood risk, flood insurance, floodplain development requirements, and the process used for floodplain mapping, according to a press release sent out by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
“Once the preliminary FIRMs become effective, these maps will be used by floodplain permit officials, builders and developers, lenders, realtors, insurance agents, and the general public to determine flood risk,” the release also stated.