WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asking that the agency provide additional assistance for residents in Lee County who may be affected by the ongoing flood map modernization program.
In a letter to FEMA administrator David Paulison, Wicker expressed his concern over the financial burden the program is placing on many Lee County residents.
Wicker wrote: “If the mapping technology used to create the maps is not the most accurate technology available, these homeowners should not bear the cost of correcting the data. More must be done to assist individuals who survey their properties to dispute FEMA’s determinations.”
Wicker also requested that FEMA provide additional information on the process for protesting assessments. In addition, in order to provide concerned citizens with the opportunity to receive and act on any new information made available to them, Wicker asked for an extension of the current 90-day public comment period.
Background on the Lee County flood map modernization process:
On May 7, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA submitted a public notice about the proposed base flood elevation determination for Lee County. This notice begins a 90-day public comment period on the adoption of these new flood maps. This period runs from May 14 to August 12, 2008. During this time, residents should contact their local floodplain management office with any questions or concerns. For residents in Saltillo, the contact is Brian Grissom who can be reached at (662) 869-5431. Concerned residents in unincorporated areas should contact Shawn Hairald at (662) 841-0378. These officials can assist you in the FEMA comment process, as well as with any other necessary steps as this process continues.
Below is Senator Wicker’s letter to Administrator Paulison:
Mr. David Paulison
500 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472-0001
Dear Administrator Paulison,
Recently, a number of homeowners in Lee County, Mississippi, contacted me regarding Federal Emergency Management Administration’s flood map modernization program. I am concerned FEMA has not provided adequate information to these individuals and the local officials working through this process.
As we learned from Hurricane Katrina, it is vital that FEMA ensure floodplain mapping is as accurate as possible. New mapping technologies and updated flood modeling created since these locations were previously mapped for flood purposes should help all homeowners correctly know their property’s flood risk. I believe this knowledge is essential to creating an actuarially sound National Flood Insurance Program. However, I do have reservations about the flood map implementation process. While I applaud the fact that an appeals process is available for those individuals who question these new maps, I remain troubled by the financial burden new land surveys may place on homeowners. If the mapping technology used to create the maps is not the most accurate technology available, these homeowners should not bear the cost of correcting the data. More must be done to assist individuals who survey their properties to dispute FEMA’s determinations.
I appreciate the work FEMA has done on this important program, but I urge you to continue to work with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, local officials, and homeowners to provide the most accurate and complete information available in this process. To that end, I request that you provide a simplified document for distribution to homeowners explaining the step-by-step process for protesting the accuracy of lot assessments. The document should include a list of information that must be supplied with protests and any other resources that may benefit the process. I also ask that you forward any documentation previously provided to local officials and homeowners to my office as soon as possible.
Finally, in light of the wide-spread confusion regarding the new maps, I request that you extend the current 90-day comment period to provide these individuals with the opportunity to receive and act on any additional information made available. I am confident you will agree that this is a simple and fair response to the concerns of my constituents.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response.
With best wishes, I am
Roger F. Wicker