The question isn’t how high flood insurance rates would go if the floodwall in Portsmouth were to be decertified, the question is whether or not you could even obtain flood insurance in the first place. That is according to Dan Cassidy of Berndt-Murfin Insurance Agency.
“I’ve looked into that and the problem that we will run into is more substantial than just the rates themselves,” Cassidy said. “If the floodwall gets decertified, the problem is, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) would come in and basically say, ‘your area is not fit to offer flood coverage, period.’ So it’s not necessarily to say the rates are going to double or triple. It’s just the fact that FEMA would most likely come in and say, ‘we’re not going to offer you flood coverage period.’”
Cassidy said in order to build a structure in a known flood zone, you are supposed to have a variance granted by the county.
“Half of the structures that were constructed in Portsmouth were given permission based on the certification of the floodwall,” Cassidy said. “But if that would go away, the problem is going to be that FEMA would step in and say, ‘we’re just not going to sell flood insurance in Scioto County, you’re out of compliance with FEMA guidelines.’”
However, concern by residents that recent actions by Portsmouth City Council in not bringing the flood defense levy to voters could result in decertification of the city’s floodwall could be much ado about nothing. Thanks to the re-introduction of the legislation by First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johson, it looks like the ordinance to send to the voters the request to renew the levy has new life beginning at this week’s City Council meeting.
But, aside from that, Portsmouth Wastewater Director Rick Duncan says everything is on track for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to bring that certification process to completion soon.
“I sent everything in but I have not heard back from them,” Duncan told The Daily Times.
After the document had been filed with FEMA, that agency came back with requests, which essentially were the need for explanations of some calculations, basically wanting to know what method was used to arrive at those figures.
The city forwarded those requests to the two contractors – Howerton Engineering and AMEC – and both responded with the information needed.
“Everything has been done by both,” Duncan said. “Everything looks good right now.”
On June 20, Duncan filed the additional information in correspondence with Roger Denick of FEMA, who had requested it in an email on Feb. 9, 2016. In addition, Duncan spoke to Stephanie Nurre of FEMA, who told him the agency had received it, and New Boston’s submittal as well and that they had started their review. Nurre said the typical review time is 90 days, and she told Duncan she would send an email to confirm the agency had received the material.
Not only does it now look like the ordinance to put the flood defense levy back on the November ballot will pass, but City Council could suspend the three-readings rule at the ordinance’s second reading to assure that there is plenty of time to get it to the Scioto County Board of Elections for placement on the ballot.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.