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Clinton County Flood Zone

ROBERT KEPLER

Renovo

In 2008 the county flood maps were updated by FEMA. The elevations used to create these maps was gathered by the county GIS Department and the Planning Commission. The biggest problem with these new maps was that possibly hundreds of homes in Clinton County were put into a flood zone that doesn’t exist. This happened because the elevations the county sent to FEMA to make these maps were far from accurate.

Homes were put into what they call a Special Flood Hazard Area. These are homes without a base flood elevation. The only way to try and get out of this flood zone is to file a Letter of Map Admendment with FEMA. This requires hiring a surveyor to take elevations of your property and filling out the form.

The problem is the homes were put into a flood zone without a base flood elevation and FEMA requires you to have a base flood elevation to get out. Hiring a surveyor to do this work does not guarantee FEMA will remove you from the flood zone that doesn’t exist. I know this because my home and 9 other homes in my neighborhood were placed into this fake flood zone.

I started doing my homework on this issue by going to township meetings and talking with the county commissioners and the planning commission. I got nowhere with the commissioners but did manage to get help from U.S Congressman “GT” Thompson. I had several meetings with Glenn, one of those was at my house to show him how ridiculous it was to have these homes in a flood zone. He agreed.

I managed to get the township to pay for the surveyor and file the LOMA’s. The result was FEMA removed the structures so no flood insurance was required, but the properties were left in the flood zone and everyone is still required to follow flood zone regulations.

In November 2017 I had a meeting with GT and the county commissioners about the homes in a nonexistant flood zone. GT handed me a new bill called HR 2874 21st Century Flood Reform Act and said the U.S. House was voting on this bill tomorrow. It passed the House and is now sitting in the U.S. Senate.

In this bill HR 2874, there are a whole lot of changes to FEMA that would benefit the people in a flood zone.

It would introduce private market competition, which would make flood insurance cheaper.

It would establish a Flood Damage Saving Account to reduce or eliminate flood insurance premiums.

Allow communities to draw their own flood maps. This way if a mistake was made it could be corrected at the county level instead of appealing to FEMA.

It would require FEMA to have actual base flood elevations before placing a home in a flood zone.

Consider unique characteristics of inland properties that are often overcharged. This would be great for places like Renovo where in 83 years there where 2 major floods, one in 1936 and one 47 years ago in 1972, which was Clinton County’s greatest flood.

It would also continue to cover new construction.

These are just some of the many benifits of HR 2874 that would help the people in a flood zone.

While at one of the township meetings the supervisors mentioned the Flood Plain Ordinance Update by FEMA. All muncipalities in Clinton County had to sign this ordinance by June 2016. It was voluntary to sign but if they didn’t sign, FEMA would drop them from the National Flood Insurance Program. Blackmail?

This ordinance put more regulations on top of what the county already had in place for flood zones. Every muncipality had to hire a Flood Plain Administrator to enforce the provisions of the ordinance. The ordinance regulates everything from storage sheds to septic systems on property in the flood plain. I can’t list all the regulations of this new flood ordinance here, but there are 35 pages of regulations on top of the county’s flood ordinances.

Now imagine being placed in a flood plain that doesn’t exist and having to pay flood insurance on a home and be required to heed to all the regulations in this new ordinance. Add to this the property taxes that are continually going up and then they wonder why there is so much blight in the county. Why hasn’t this issue been fixed? How is this good for economic development? Why do our elected leaders not care?

Renovo recently condemned a row of houses on 14th Street. We were told that if one of these homes was bought at a repository sale for $500 and the repairs cost more than half the value of the home, the owner would be held to a whole host of regulations under the 2016 Flood Ordinance. One of those regulation was the home would have to be elevated 13 feet above the base flood elevation.

I believe there is some misinformation being put out there about this 2016 Flood Ordinance. For example on page 27 Article VIII – Variances section 8.01 General, If compliance with ANY of the requirements of this Ordinance would result in an exceptional hardship to a prospective builder, Developer or landowner, the township may, upon request, grant relief from the STRICT application of the REQUIREMENTS.

I know it says township and not bourgh, but I was told by Leslie Rhodes who was contracted by FEMA to get these ordinances signed by muncipalities, that this ordinance was a standard form for all muncipalities.

I tried to call a Renovo council member about this information but was hung up on! I went to the Renovo borough building and left this information with the secretary and told her If I could be of any help let me know, I heard crickets!

Am I right on this ordinance about the variance for the flood zone? How many other homes are going to rot and be tore down in the Renovo area and the county because of misinformation? How many prospective buyers or builders are being told it’s to costly to remodel or repair because of the flood zone? I just laid out two ways to help preserve homes in a flood zone, HB 2874 21st Century Flood Reform ACT and a variance in the 2016 Flood Ordinance Update.

The homes on 14th street might be too far gone for repair now, but lets not sit and let more homes rot to the point they need tore down! What is done with this information I laid out here is up to our elected leaders. I bet we’ll hear crickets!

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