New Lee flood map to affect hundreds of homeowners

BY EMILY LE COZ
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Hundreds of property owners currently without flood insurance could be forced into a policy after a new flood map goes into effect for Lee County.

The map, which is in its final stages of adoption, will be on display at a Monday night meeting where residents and land owners can get information, ask questions and even dispute the findings.

The meeting will be held from 5-7 p.m. on the second floor of Tupelo's City Hall. Officials from FEMA and MEMA, as well as city and county representatives, will be on hand to provide data.

“Some people who weren't in the flood plain before may be in now, and some people who were before might not be in anymore. It depends on where you live,” said John Crawley, Tupelo city engineer. “If people have questions, it's important that they be there.”

A flood plain is flat, or nearly flat, land near a water source that is prone to occasionally flood. The latest time the county had its map done was 1999, Crawley said.

Residents and landowners in Tupelo will not see drastic changes from the current map to the new version, but those in Saltillo will.

Estimated at 250 homes

That city's building and zoning administrator, Brian Grissom, estimated some 250 homes will move into the flood plain. They're primarily in subdivisions like Willow Creek, Saddle Creek, Pats Cove and West Briar.

“Everybody in those subdivisions, it is very important to them,” Grissom said. “Some of those houses are not going to be (in the flood plain), because some of the elevations are just high enough, but the house across the street will be. They might want to come by and verify the map.”

Those who find themselves in the flood plain could be required to purchase national flood insurance, depending on their situation. Grissom said some insurance experts will attend the meeting to answer questions.

“If you own say a house and you're in a flood plain, in order to get a federallly backed mortgage or even refinance current a mortgage, you'd be required to have flood insurance,” Crawley said.

Anyone who disputes the new maps must file an appeal and back it up with evidence within 90 days of the public hearing. If there are no appeals, the map will adopted in three months.

Contact Daily Journal reporter Emily Le Coz
at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.