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Flood Risk Areas Change With New Map

Coffeeville Mayor Mack Burns (left) and Yalobusha County Emergency Management Agency Director Frank Hyde (right) review the new map during an open meeting last Thursday. – Photo by David Howell

Flooding has been a familiar scene on Main Street in Water Valley over the decades. This photo was taken in 1954 looking south from the Blackmur Hotel at Main and Panola Streets. The Illinois Central Railroad built the depot high enough to avoid being flooded.

This photo postcard shows the intersection of Wood and Main Streets (looking west from Wood Street) more than a century ago. The railroad tracks have disappeared beneath the flood waters. Written across the front of the card is “Water at Water Valley.”

This map and the one below show overlapping areas of the city’s interior. The flood risk areas are shown in blue.

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – An updated flood risk map for Yalobusha County is one step closer to finality after a open house meeting last Thursday in which a new map was reviewed by city and county officials as well as the public.
    The map updates the current 1985 map currently used by to designated low-lying areas prone to flooding. identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
    The new map will place additional homes and businesses, both in Coffeeville and Water Valley and in the county, in the flood plain while others areas previously identified as prone to flood risk are no longer in a high risk area.
    Both Water Valley Mayor Larry Hart and Coffeeville Mayor Mack Burns noted that there are new areas identified as being in the flood plain in their municipalities which may not be correct.
    One problem, noted by  Hart, is that the new map for Water Valley does not take into effect flood control work performed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers  in the 1980s to control flooding in Water Valley. Hart believes that if the Corps work can be certified, there could be a reduction in the amount of property identified by FEMA as being in the flood plain.
    Hart had made a preliminary contact with Corps officials to see what type of information will be needed for the certification.
    “It is going to take in quite a few more houses,” Burns said about the proposed flood plain changes in his town. Burns also said a Corps levee was not taken into account with the new map.
    The next step in the process will be a legal notice published in one of the county’s newspaper, notifying the public of a start date for a 90-day appeal period in the new boundaries can be disputed. After the appeals process, there will be an issuance of a letter of final determination that informs city and county officials, and the public, of the date when the new map will be considered effective.
    Currently Water Valley and Coffeeville participate in the the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) while the county does not. This means flood insurance, which is required for most mortgages if the home or business is located in a high risk area, is only available to residents inside Water Valley and Coffeeville.
    To participate in the program, the city or county agrees to adopt and enforce a flood damage prevention ordinance, which requires permits for all types of development in the floodplain.
    Possible county participation in NFIP has also been discussed at recent supervisor meetings. During an August 3 meeting, supervisors discussed ramifications for not participating in the flood program including:
    • Flood insurance is not 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 permanent construction.
Beating The Clock
    Mississippi Flood Plain Manager  Al Goodman noted that people who entering a higher risk area on the new flood plain map can save money if they purchase a policy before the final map date becomes effective.
    An example, cited in a rate comparison chart provided by NFIP, indiCates that coverage on a $200,000 home with $80,000 in contents coverage will cost $326 the first year if the policy is locked in before the new map goes into effect. After the first year, the homeowner will pay around $1,208 annually –  as long as the policy is in force.
    If the homeowner waits until after the new maps become effective, they would pay $2,074 annually for the same coverage.
    The new maps are  available to view online at

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