Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flood Map Update

In this story that seems to revolve more around the failure of not having a built in updating process for vital flood maps, rather than the political squabble it outlines, still makes clear there is a lot of work to do, and the federal government should continue to press for the updating of the maps, even though they are rushing now where before they were sluggish.

Here is an excerpt.

More time sought for flood maps
By Michael Doyle -- Bee Washington Bureau Published 12:01 am PDT Thursday, June 22, 2006

WASHINGTON -- A billion-dollar update of the nation's flood maps is exacting a political toll in the Central Valley.

In places like Merced, San Joaquin and Yolo counties, developers and community leaders worry the federal government is moving too quickly. Some fear fast-approaching deadlines could leave certain regions more exposed -- not to flooding, but to ambiguity and higher insurance rates.

"We have a certified levee that has been properly maintained," Lathrop City Councilwoman Kristy Sayles said Wednesday, "and now they're talking about remapping it and basically changing everything, but they're not saying what the new standard is going to be."

Sayles cited the proposed 11,000-home River Islands development, along with two others in Lathrop, that could be put under a shadow. In the worst case, some fear developments could be deemed unprotected and therefore subject to flood insurance.

The worries resonate on Capitol Hill, where they are echoed by politically influential real estate and development interests. This week, 18 California members of the House added their voices in a pointed letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. First and foremost, the lawmakers want to push back mapping deadlines that would force additional Valley counties to draft maps by Sept. 30.

"The information is critical, and must be calculated correctly," said Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. "The current timelines are unrealistic to achieve that goal."

Pombo chairs the House Resources Committee, which amplifies his voice on such matters. He joined with Reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, and Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, among others, in firing the warning shot across FEMA's bow.

Federal emergency management officials stress the importance of updating information, though they did not rule out the possibility of postponing some deadlines.

"Most of the maps were done in the early '80s," FEMA spokesman Butch Kinerney said Wednesday. "We've got new data, obviously, and we've got lots of new land use. It's time to update them."