The Ukiah Daily Journal

New flood plain maps a worry

FEMA plan would require many to buy flood insurance

- By Justine Frederikse­n

After receiving an update from city staff regarding the “drasticall­y different” flood plain maps the Federal Emergency Management Agency has prepared for the Ukiah Valley, the Ukiah City Council voted to have staff draft a letter to local federal representa­tives.

The letter would explain “what the city's doing and on what basis we're appealing (the new maps),” said Mayor Mari Rodin, and Council member Susan Sher suggested that state representa­tives also be included in any correspond­ence.

The resolution passed unanimousl­y after Public Works Director Tim Eriksen reported that the city was still in the process of appealing the proposed changes, which included hiring a second consultant to review the new maps.

Last month, Eriksen told the council that after the first firm the city hired to review the maps “kinda came back with, `FEMA is in-line, the maps were in-line,” he was told by City Manager Sage Sangiacomo “to try again,” and he then hired Jeff Anderson of Northern Hydrology and Engineerin­g, a firm based in Humboldt County.

“(Anderson) was successful in helping Willits defeat this process,” said Eriksen, explaining that he asked Anderson to “make sure we're not missing anything, because folks are going to be very unhappy about this. He's working on that right now, and we do have until March 15 to file our appeal.”

Sangiacomo “strongly urged” all residents to go to the city's website and review the maps for themselves, describing them as particular­ly affecting “the area between Gibson and Orr streets, including the Wagenselle­r Neighborho­od and the Brush Street Triangle.

Eriksen further explained during Wednesday's meeting that the current flood plain maps “have been in place since the 1970s,” and that the updated maps, “which mostly affect Doolan, Gibson and Orr creeks, are drasticall­y different than what existed for my entire career.

“The areas really affected are the Wagon seller neighborho­od and the Oak Manor area,” continued Eriksen, describing the “Manor Oaks mobile home park as basically all in the flood plain area now — the biggest change is that FEMA thinks Gibson and Orr creeks are going to become one big creek in a 100-year storm.”

During Public Comment, Dick Selzer addressed the council to say that the changes would not just affect people with “federal mortgages, but federally backed mortgages, which means virtually every loan that anybody has, and they will be required to buy flood insurance, and it's going to change their monthly payments by as much as $300 or $400 a month is some cases.”

Sangiacomo also urged residents who are concerned about their insurance rates being raised to contact their federal representa­tives directly. Rep. Huffman's Ukiah District Office is located in the Ukiah Valley Conference Center at 200 S. School St., and can be reached by calling (707) 671-7449.

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