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Published: Wednesday, 8/15/2007

Flood-plain remap could prove costly

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Costly changes could be in store for Jerusalem Township, Point Place, and Washington Township property owners once updated flood-plain maps are released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The anticipated revisions are expected to result in many Lucas County homes being declared part of the 100-year flood plain for the first time.

Affected property owners would be required by law to buy federal flood insurance.

Flood-plain maps are drawn up to assess flooding risk.

The new maps are expected to be released in December.

Structures built in flood plains must be designed to withstand or avoid flood damage.

They are to be built at least one foot above what FEMA describes as an area's base flood elevation, Lucas County Engineer Keith Earley said.

FEMA defines that as the elevation in which floodwater is expected to rise during a major flood.

The agency's anticipated revision could result in a hardship for Richard Hansen of Jerusalem Township, though he is aware that he is building a home inside a high-risk flood zone.

I m spending a lot of money, he said about the home he s building on Teachout Road north of Seaman Road, about a mile from the lake.

I ve pulled in over 500 loads of dirt on a property that isn t that low. I ll probably need another 200 to 300 to grade it out to make it look like I m not sitting on a ski slope.

Dealing with flood-plain designations has become part of life along the lake shore for many and it may be for other residents when the updated map is released.

Everybody is preaching that they want to stay in the area, but they re making it tough to try and build in this area, Mr. Hansen said.

At any given time, if they change the regulations, I m back in [the base flood elevation]. Even though I m building out of the flood plain now, I could be in the flood plain later if the elevation is raised.

Federal law requires residents who have a federally backed mortgage on a home in a high-risk area to purchase flood insurance.

The insurance is underwritten by the federal government, which also sets the rates for coverage.

By way of example, annual premiums for a policy extending $100,000 of coverage for a building and $30,000 of coverage for its contents cost as much as $1,079.

Traditionally, there hasn t been a lot of change between flood maps in Lucas County the last two map updates were done in 2000 and in the early 1980s.

But the map update being worked on will be the first to incorporate extremely accurate topographical data collected by the county several years ago using lidar, which is similar to radar but uses laser light in place of radar s radio waves to map surface contours.

One of the reasons that Jerusalem Township is susceptible to flooding, when compared to other areas along the lake shore, is its flat topography.

The high-risk flood zone affects homes more than two miles from the lake.



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