Port Deposit residents urged to regain flood insurance
New map goes into effect Aug. 1
— A mistake made in flood mapping may have financial benefit for some homeowners in the waterfront town, federal officials told the mayor and town council Tuesday.
Robert Pierson, spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region III in Philadelphia, said those in town who did drop their flood insurance when FEMA took the north end of Port Deposit out of the flood zone may get back in at a lower premium.
“They might be better off than if they’ve been in for years,” he said.
However, the deadline for this potential discount will likely end soon.
“For sure you want these people to get flood insurance and you want them to get it before Aug. 1 when the map goes into effect,” Pierson said.
Right now, FEMA is in a 90-day appeal period in which the public can comment on the revised maps. The Flood Hazard Determination notice is posted at http:// tinyurl. com/ femaport.
FEMA ruled last year that Port Deposit was not
in the 100-year flood plain and at no risk for coastal flooding.
“That was a shock to us,” Councilman Bob Kuhs said.
Pierson said researchers revisited their data and discovered the error by not considering the impact of the Susquehanna River.
“This is a true risk downtown,” Pierson said, to acknowledging nods from every town official. “It was a total FEMA oversight that actually happened in other towns as well.”
Councilman Tom Knight explained it in simple terms.
“Our flooding is more of the water comes in and goes down,” Knight said. “It’s not wave action.”
He said the railroad tracks, to some degree, act as a barrier.
Pierson said any property owner who wants to see if there is the potential for damage can go to the National Flood Insurance Program website at www. floodsmart.gov and use the red box to determine flood risk.
The new map, bringing all of the downtown back into the flood plain, was issued March 21. However, notices announcing the change were only published in a metropolitan newspaper. The council urged the federal representatives at the Tuesday night work session to make the information available to town residents.
Meanwhile, Knight said some insurance companies have likely seen that notice and will contact customers.
Vicky Rinkerman, town administrator, said she would post all the information given the town on the town’s website and through social media.
In the midst of the map update, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is also developing a flood emergency tool for Port Deposit. Craig Thomas, Corps spokesman, told town officials this would be an online interactive mechanism to determine floodwater levels as it happens in relation to spill conditions at the Conowingo Dam.
“Anybody will be able to go online, click on a gate and get information about the flood and depth of water,” he said.
After a communication lapse between the dam and town hall created a massive flood event in January 1996, a chart was developed along with an emergency notification system, which spells out water levels and locations in Port Deposit in correlation with the opening of the 53 crest gates.
“This is going to be an actual map, a modern version of that piece of paper,” Thomas said.
Robert Pierson, representing Region III in Philadelphia for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, shows Port Deposit officials FEMA’s revised flood plain map.