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County Takes Steps To Adopt Flood Ordinance

District 2 Supervisor Amos Sims (left) and District 1 Supervisor Tommy Vaughn (right) discuss a flood plain ordinance in the county with County Engineer Robert Willis. Supervisors invite the public to provide input about the ordinance during their next meeting, scheduled May 3 in Coffeeville. – Photo by David Howell

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Yalobusha supervisors are finalizing plans to implement a new National Flood Plain Insurance (FNIP) ordinance in the county.     

    Yalobusha is the only county in the state not currently enrolled in the NFIP, although Coffeeville and Water Valley both participate in the program. The matter is scheduled to be discussed at May’s “first Monday” meeting scheduled May 3 in Coffeeville and supervisors are soliciting input from the public at this meeting.

    To participate in the program, the county agrees to adopt and enforce a flood damage prevention ordinance. The county will be required to hire a flood plain manager and implement a permitting system for the construction for development in the flood plain. Other responsibilities include monitoring any new construction or substantial renovation in designated flood areas.

    The issue was discussed in a recessed meeting held Monday, April 19, as County Engineer Robert Willis met with supervisors to fine-tune details for the new ordinance. Board Attorney John Crow had drafted a rough copy of the proposed ordinance for review.

    During the May 3 meeting, the topics will include who to hire as the flood plain manager, a position that will be part-time  and likely be handled in an existing department. A second issue is establishing guidelines determining how high a structure must be elevated above the flood plain.

    Although Board Attorney John Crow said that the ordinance had been kicked around for almost 15 years, supervisors began moving toward adopting the ordinance last year after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began updating a 1985 map currently used to designate low-lying areas prone to flooding. The new map is expected to become effective in September.

    The county also received a letter last year from Mississippi flood plain Coordinator Stacey Ricks stressing three ramifications if the county does not participate in the flood program:

    • Flood insurance will not 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 permanent construction. This means if a tornado or other disaster strikes, damaged homes located in the flood plain in the county would not be eligible for federal assistance.

    The ordinance will not affect structures located outside of flood risk areas.

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