Editor’s note: Richard Howerton of Howerton Engineering & Surveying PLLC responded to charges by Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen who said the city might lose its flood insurance because of “one individual.” The story containing Allen’s comments was originally published in the Wednesday, May, 11, edition of the Daily Times.
Richard Howerton, principal of Howerton Engineering & Surveying PLLC submitted a written response to the newspaper office Wednesday afternoon. His statement follows:
We feel we need to respond to Portsmouth Daily Times article: “City Manager blames Howerton in Levee
Let us first dispel the notion that Mr. Allen’s statements are accurate. In the article, it states: “If we lose our
flood insurance, it’s not because of the city, it’s because of one individual”. This is completely
misrepresenting the truth. This kind of comment could be considered defamation. These statements that
are being made can harm our reputation, as they are not accurate.
We feel that this is another article that paints our firm in a bad light and is unfair in its portrayal of our firm,
a locally owned small business, that employs local people. We only deal in just the facts, and again, we will
state the facts as they are:
First of all, there could be countless reasons the City loses its flood protection certification. It will not on
account of what Howerton Engineering does. Second, it’s the residents of the City who may potentially be
forced to obtain flood insurance on federally backed mortgages, in the event the City loses its flood
protection status. However, we do not see that happening unless the City fails to meet FEMA’s
Additionally, Allen states that the two sub-contractors have turned their work. This is actually not completely
true either. During our work to prepare the FEMA package, we have requested the sub-contractors turn in
their certification tabulations, correct some minor typographic errors, and we are still waiting on them.
Another fact that was failed to mention, was that the City was supposed to file for an extension to May 30,
of this year. We have been working under the assumption that the City has done this. We communicated
via email to Flood Defense Director Duncan earlier this week that we are working toward completing the
submittal package and expect to have it ready by May 30.
We have also been in communication with FEMA on some interrogatories, and are trying to get some
questions we have regarding their comments answered. This has been an ongoing process.
We are also waiting on a package from Flood Defense Director Duncan that will be included in the package.
We still have not receive this.
Keep in mind, that this project team was amassed together and chosen from a group of consultants among
multiple SOQ packages, by the City.
Last year, a revised report was submitted to the City of Portsmouth around May of 2015.
The report could not be certified by the Certification Team at that time, due to the fact the City had not
completed the repair of a sinkhole along the Levee near US 52 and OCSO.
If anyone wishes to review the timeline and facts, we can easily conclude our firm has had nothing to do
with delaying the certification process.
We offer the following timeline:
April 2011 – Draft Certification Report presented to the City of Portsmouth. Thelen’s reports indicates under
seepage issues along the Levee centered around Lawson Run WWTP. Thelen recommends feasibility study
to determine cost of relief wells, as preliminary engineering cost estimates are too vague and require
October 2011 – City hires AMEC for 2nd opinion on Thelen’s seepage issue. AMEC Report identifies under
seepage issues, but AMEC reduces size of affected area. Recommended only 2 relief wells.
FEMA Deadline was in 2011. FEMA has worked with the City to extend deadline dates multiple times even
after stating there would be no extensions.
February 2015, City finalizes payment for Moody’s of Dayton for installation of 2 relief wells.
(ALMOST 4 YEARS HAVE PASSED since original report submitted to the City)
Feb 2015 — City authorizes Howerton/Thelen/Cole to update report. Report breaks certification sections up,
allowing AMEC to certify section near Lawson WWTP. All Flood Defense stations had to be re-inspected
after 4 year hiatus. (This was the bulk of the additional service fees the City had to “pony up” from 2015)
May 2015 — updated Report submitted to City.
Nine months pass by.
Feb 2016 — FEMA requests additional supporting documentation from AMEC and Howerton/Thelen/Cole
May 2016 — We are in the finalization of the FEMA package, in response to FEMA Comments.
END OF TIMELINE
Additionally, we should note, that THELEN along with members for the Army Corps of Engineers performed
a follow up study to AMEC’s design of the relief wells near the Lawson Run WWTP. Their report indicates
that the 2 relief wells were insufficient.
Our firm, has not done anything to “hold” up the certification process. Going back to the Portsmouth Daily
Times Article on March 15, of this year, stating that our firm is “responsible” for the certification process
being held up is completely misrepresenting the truth.
We would hope that you will seek our comment on this in the future, instead of just printing what is being
stated by Mr. Allen, who clearly does not state the full facts.
We have a positive outlook, and believe we can work out any outstanding comments with FEMA. We know
there is a bright future here if we all work together, together we can make Portsmouth great again.
Richard L. Howerton P.E., P.S., C.F.M.
Certified Floodplain Manager