Flooded Maine Family Blames Error in Federal Maps

December 6, 2006

A family devastated by the Mother’s Day flood that inundated their home along the Mousam River in Kennebunk, Maine says errors in federal maps prompted them to forgo the purchase of flood insurance, a decision that came back to haunt them.

“It’s just this massive nightmare,” said Yetta Chin. “What we need is for someone to assume the accountability for what destroyed our lives.”

Yetta and Steven Chin’s small home in the Intervale Road neighborhood was hardest hit in the floods that forced them and their three children to seek temporary shelter at the local firehouse more than six months ago and eventually rent a duplex in Arundel.

The family, which had been living comfortably and paying its bills on time, now faces possible foreclosure on their home because of the $280,000 estimated cost of repairs.

“We are a mess,” Chin said. “There’s no bright, rosy light at the end of the tunnel.”

Water rose 1 to 3 feet in some of the homes in the neighborhood, destroying floors, walls, septic systems and household items. Most residents had not purchased flood insurance, because federal maps erroneously failed to designate Intervale Road as being in a flood zone.

The river widened 360 feet beyond its usual course and flooded about a dozen low-lying homes on the road. Joyce Jones has been unable to return home and has been working since the floods to rebuild.

The flooding came as more than 15 inches of rain reportedly fell on parts of York County during a 30-day period, hitting hard at coastal towns between Kennebunk and York and inland areas near the New Hampshire border. Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency in the county and President Bush declared the flooding a major disaster, funneling federal relief to towns, businesses and homeowners.

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