FEMA may add 234 city structures to 'high-hazard' flood zone

Shamokin Creek spills onto South Franklin Street in Shamokin during the Flood of 2011. FEMA intends to add 234 structures in the city to its revised “high-hazard” flood zone map.

SHAMOKIN — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) intends to add 234 structures in the city to its revised “high-hazard” flood zone map.

Jeff Hager, the city’s emergency management coordinator, informed council at its workshop Wednesday that an estimated 325 structures, according to FEMA, will be inundated by a 100-year flood.

A preliminary flood insurance rate map (FIRM) was created to illustrate the extent of flood zones in the city. Areas affected by the proposed revisions include the Fifth Ward and sections of West Arch, West Walnut and North Second streets.

FEMA states in a handout provided by Hager that it is the responsibility of the community to notify property owners and other stakeholders that they will be impacted by the map changes.

FEMA warned that adopting a new FIRM may change the National Flood Insurance Program policy rating for both present and future policyholders.

In response to Mayor John Brown asking how the proposed maps could affect potential development, Hager said it is his understanding that insurance companies would contact policyholders.

Police Chief Darwin Tobias III clarified that people with mortgages for properties within flood zones are required to carry flood insurance.

Hager told council he attended a July community and coordination and outreach meeting, during which officials had the opportunity to examine preliminary flood insurance study (FIS) and FIRM maps, discuss the impacts of the proposed changes and review the process for adopting the new maps.

He said the changes in flood zones are due to FEMA raising the base-flood elevation of the Susquehanna River by 2 feet.

Hager said anyone may file an appeal but stressed it must be supported by scientific and technical data that show better methodologies, assumptions or data exist.

FEMA describes an appeal as a formal objection to the addition or modification of preliminary base-flood elevations, flood zone boundaries and regulatory floodway boundaries.

FEMA requires appeals to be submitted by the community’s “chief executive officer” during the 90-day regulatory appeal period, which commences with the second publication notice of the proposed determination published in the Federal Register.

Hager was unsure when the appeal process began but said further information can be obtained at Shamokin City Hall or at www.floodsmart.gov.

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