FEMA to present new floodplain maps
The new floodplain maps for the county are scheduled to become effective in February 2013. The new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) replace maps that are up to 30 years old. Floodplain designations affect property owners' flood insurance. The federal and state officials will give an overview of the changes, what that means for landowners, and will answer questions during this public outreach meeting.
Pamela Laflamme, Berlin city planner, said Tuesday that the city sent out about 200 notices to the property owners who would be affected, and that people have come into city hall to check out the new maps. The city does not make the flood hazard zone designations, and so cannot always supply the reasoning behind any changes.
“Only FEMA can actually answer those questions,” Laflamme said. “This is the right audience (FEMA) to express those concerns.”
She said that prior to the new mapping only about 11 Berlin properties were in the federal flood insurance program, and that the new ratings could affect up to 120 parcels with buildings on them. She pointed out that property owners with federally-backed mortgages could get be surprised by the hike in their flood insurance bills. Those property owners are required to buy flood insurance.
Municipalities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, Robin Frost, Gorham town manager, said the town had approximately 40 properties that were not in the floodplain on the older maps, but are on the latest revisions, and about 94 properties that were within the floodplain on the existing map and are not on the new ones. She said there were a few shifts on the properties by the Androscoggin River.
During Tropical Storm Irene it was the flashflooding of the streams and rivers down from the mountains, such as the Peabody River, which caused considerable damage to roadways and private property.
The updated maps include new engineering analyses of the Androscoggin River in Berlin, Gorham, Dummer, Milan, Shelburne and Errol, along with several tributaries to the river. In Errol, Akers Pond was redelineated.
In northwestern Coos County, changes to the Connecticut River floodplain ratings in Clarksville, Colebrook, Columbia, Stratford, and Stewartstown are documented by data of studies from adjoining state or communities.
Preliminary maps were released in May 2011, with two public meetings held in the county in July 2011. The public comment period ran from Feb. 3 of this year to May 3.
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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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