FEMA Releases Missoula Flood Plain Maps

May 12, 2009

Some Missoula County, Mont., residents say they’re concerned about newly released Federal Emergency Management Agency maps showing which properties are located in flood plains.

The concerned residents include homeowners in the Mullan Trails subdivision. Missoula County is wrapping up a $5 million project to makes sure a creek doesn’t swamp septic systems in the development again.

That happened in 1997, but the FEMA maps suggest another flood is still possible.

A public meeting on the maps is scheduled for May 14 in the Missoula City Council chambers. The maps won’t be considered official for at least a year, according to FEMA.

Missoula County has proposed changes to the maps to FEMA.

Ever since Hurricane Katrina, FEMA draws flood plain boundaries regardless of flood-control structures, according to Greg Robertson, public works director for Missoula County.

“Now, as a result of Hurricane Katrina, we have to consider those structures as if they do not exist. They must be physically removed from the model for mapping purposes,” Robertson said.

The result is some homeowners located behind flood protection projects will have to buy flood insurance.

Flood insurance varies widely but Sandberg said he’s heard estimates in that area of anywhere from $600 to $900 a year.

“Everybody feels that other than having to buy flood insurance, it’s not too bad a deal,” he said.

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