The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City Hall surveyed May’s Island’s elevation itself to prove it is outside 100-year flood plain; Local taxpayers save up to $3 million

In City Hall, FEMA on April 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said May’s Island sits in the city’s 100-year flood plain, and City Hall has now proven to FEMA that it doesn’t.

The upshot: The city of Cedar Rapids will save up to $1 million and Linn County up to $2 million.

The saving comes because local jurisdictions must pay the first $1 million in renovation costs to a flood-damaged public building sitting in the 100-year flood plain. Such payments aren’t required for public buildings outside the 100-year flood plain.

Under the FEMA rule, the city of Cedar Rapids had been expecting to pay $1 million — $500,000 on flood-damaged contents and $500,000 on flood damage to the building – as part of FEMA’s payment to repair the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall on May’s Island.

Likewise, Linn County faced the same $1-million burden for each of its two flood-damaged buildings on May’s Island, the Linn County Courthouse and the Linn County Jail.

Chuck Chaffins, FEMA’s infrastructure branch director in Iowa, was the first to make note that the city of Cedar Rapids had succeeded in challenging FEMA’s flood map that had put May’s Island in the 100-year flood plain. On Tuesday, Steve Estenson, Linn County’s risk manager, credited the city of Cedar Rapids with successfully challenging the FEMA flood map.

On Wednesday, Dave Elgin, the city of Cedar Rapids’ public works director, explained how the city had succeeded in seeking a “letter of map amendment” to Cedar Rapids’ National Flood Insurance Program flood map.

Elgin noted that FEMA itself issued a draft of the city’s new flood map two years ago, a map which put May’s Island outside the 100-year flood plain. Come last December, though, FEMA published the draft and May’s Island was back in the 100-year flood plain.

Elgin said the city then surveyed the island itself and found that its elevation is not in the city’s 100-year flood plain, but, in fact, is in the 500-year flood plain.

FEMA now has said it will amend the flood map to put May’s Island in its correct elevation standing the river, Elgin said.

The position outside the 100-year flood plain does not eliminate the city’s requirement to carry flood insurance on the building if it accepts FEMA funds to repair the building.

The city has put the damage estimate to the Veterans Memorial Building/City Hall at $20-plus million.

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  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

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