Kalona News: Kalona get revised FEMA floodplain map

Kalona get revised FEMA floodplain map

By Ronald Slechta
The Kalona News

Dr. Larry Weber, Director, IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and the Iowa Flood Center, presented the Kalona City Council Monday night another revised 100-year flood plain.

The revised map that uses methodology the Iowa Flood Center was previously authorized by FEMA and the DNR to map flood plains in 85 Iowa counties. FEMA is expected to issue a revised 100-year flood plain map based on the one done by the Iowa Flood Center.

Dr. Weber explained that in a webinar meeting with FEMA, DNR, STARR (Strategic Alliance for Risk Reduction), the Iowa Flood Center and others it was agreed that a revised flood map for Kalona should be developed based off of the 1987 regression equation that is agreed upon in Iowa as being more appropriate for watersheds less than 20 sq mi. STARR of Atlanta, GA, had followed FEMA standard practice by using the newest regression equation from 2001.  Dr. Weber said the 87’ equation is more appropriate for determining flood plain maps for Iowa and for watersheds of less than 20 square miles.

City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh noted FEMA would be issuing a revised 100-year flood plain map based on the engineering and mapping being done by the Iowa Flood Center.

Yet to be determined is how FEMA will map the Harvest Hill area. Dr. Weber stated that if the same methodology used in the West Ditch area is extended to Harvest Hill, that housing development will be mapped out of the Zone A flood plain.

Additional parts or the northwest section of the city and the area south of Highway 22 could be removed from Zone A with improvements upstream including buffers and retention basins, noted Schlabaugh. He pointed out those improvements are likely to be expensive and the city would have to determine how that work would be funded.

Dr. Weber said that a more detailed 2-dimensional study could be done so the city could later apply for a LOMAR (Letter of Map Revision).

Both Dr. Weber and Schlabaugh pointed out that FEMA and STARR representatives were very cooperative during the webinar.

Mayor Jerry Kauffman and council members expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Iowa Flood Center and cooperation of FEMA.

Schlabaugh pointed out that the city’s effort in working with the Iowa Flood Center and FEMA has resulted in a reduction of the areas of the city that would be in Zone A requiring Federal Flood insurance.

It was noted that in the first map, there were 353 homes with average value of $125,000 (with $40,000 worth of content) that would be mandated to have flood insurance if they had federal backed loans. This would mean average annual premiums of $493,141 (average of $1,397 per household).

There were also 116 mobile homes with average value  $35,000, meaning total premiums of $59,392 ($512 a mobile home).

The original map included 112 businesses buildings with average value of $200,000 resulting in total premiums of $396,743 ($3,511 per business).

This meant Kalona residents and business owners faced potential premiums of $949,276.

Under the latest revised map, there would be 142 homes still in Zone A facing potential total premiums of $198,374 (average of $1,397 per home).

There would still be 100 mobile homes facing potential premiums of $51,200 (average of $512).

The new map shows 52 businesses still in Zone facing potential premiums of $182,572 ($3,511 average).

Schlabaugh noted this means the potential premiums faced by residential and business owners was reduced from $949,276 to $432,146.

Schlabaugh further explained that property located in Zone A could be ruled out of the need for flood insurance if the potential 100-year flood didn’t include the home or business buildings.

Steve Lafaurie pointed out that the city would determine a permanent solution to the west ditch erosion control, not a band-aid approach.  But he cautioned that it could be very expensive and funding would have to be determined.  He expressed appreciation for the help of the Iowa Flood Center. He pointed out Kalona residents need to be patient, as the city has not dropped the issues along the west ditch.

Once the new map has been accepted by the city, Schlabaugh said the next step would be for the city to pass the model resolution stating the city would participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. If the city does not participate, Kalona residents would not be able to get “affordable” flood insurance and less aid would be available from FEMA in case of a natural disaster, as well the funding for new home purchases would become very difficult as new federally backed mortgages would no longer be available.


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