County flood maps due out Nov. 9

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Modified flood maps for Warren County expected to show changes in areas most prone to floods of all types will be displayed to the public Nov. 9, officials said Tuesday.

Changes involve places in Vicksburg and Warren County that would be inundated by a flood with a 1 percent chance of happening in any given year, or Special Flood Hazard Areas, said Stephen Champlin, director of the state’s flood zones for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, part of a three-agency effort with FEMA and MEMA to update county flood maps in Mississippi.

Maps may be viewed between 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room on the third floor of the courthouse for 30 days, followed by a 90-day appeal period. They were delivered to the Warren County Emergency Management Agency and the city’s Building and Inspections Department this month.

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“We had selected areas we’ve done some re-study on,” Champlin said. “Near some streams and creeks.”

Flood-risk maps formerly available only on paper have been digitized nationwide by FEMA as part of a process begun in 2003, put in place in Mississippi as the Mississippi Flood Map Modernization Initiative. Sixty-three counties have effective maps as part of the effort. Warren’s current map was approved in 2008. Modifications to be shown at the hearing began a year ago when the three agencies began a six-year rotation of making small adjustments to county maps.

Like other counties, the map is represented as individual sections of land, or “panels,” available for public view at the Emergency Management Agency at the courthouse. Champlin said changes to Warren County’s total map involved 17 of its 45 panels. The current map showed most SFHA’s are in low-lying areas along the Mississippi River — ravaged by this spring’s record flood — along the Big Black River and on small drainage bayous that branch out countywide.

Two areas appear to have been redrawn on the newer renditions, one spot on Long Meadow Drive in south Vicksburg and a section of Audubon Hills subdivision, said Victor Gray-Lewis, chief of the Buildings and Inspections and the city’s flood plain manager.

The digitally enhanced maps were deemed necessary to re-map flood risks nationwide, particularly in sparsely populated areas. Technical improvements have caused some properties that had bordered SFHAs in past years to be designated flood-prone, which has home-owners to purchase flood insurance who hadn’t been compelled by their mortgage lender to do so.

U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and David Pryor, D-Ark., announced Tuesday they’ve asked the Senate Banking Committee to relax part of a bill to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program that mandates flood insurance in areas of “residual risk” beyond levees, dams and other flood-control structures.

In a joint statement, Cochran praised the committee for “yeoman’s work” but said structures already protected by “strong levees and dams” shouldn’t be forced to purchase flood insurance.

“The blanket approach taken in the current bill should be changed in order to ensure fair treatment for those protected properties,” he said.

The program’s current authorization expires Nov. 18 and the committee has no set schedule to consider the reauthorization bill.