Protests were lodged by individual property owners. Public hearings, including a session arranged by the office of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo, produced dialogue about contested facts, flood insurance generally, and the costs of coverage in higher-risk areas.
This month, a revised version of the preliminary map assuaged some fears about both costs and flood plain risks with the removal of about 70 residences from the higher risk area. The government "discovered" that federal funds had built a large flood control lake in the early 1970s near the high-risk flood prone areas (the lake is easily seen from U.S. Highway 45), and with that factored into the calculations, the base flood elevation dropped by eight feet.
The lake doesn't eliminate higher flood risks in some parts of Saltillo, a result of new development, especially subdivisions, in the fast-growing northern Lee County town. Development in flood plains almost always increases flood risks because water-absorbing land is covered with structures, which speed runoff and diminish absorption.
Tupelo, among many other communities, also deals on a regular basis in rain-heavy season with the probability of flooding. Tupelo is built largely in the flood plain of Town Creek and its tributaries.
Resolving Saltillo's issues with the flood plain map opens the door for adoption of the Lee County Flood Insurance Rating Map, which determines where flood plains are defined countywide and the rates people will pay to insure their properties through the Federal Flood Insurance Program.
The National Flood Insurance Program is a function of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Its three components are :
- Flood insurance
- Floodplain management
- Flood hazard mapping
The NFIP financially backs flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and the business community. The program also includes building guidelines that can minimize flood damage in flood plains.
Mississippi is more flood prone than many other states because about five million of our state's 30 million acres are in flood plains. Most lenders will not make loans for flood plain properties unless NFIP coverage is guaranteed by borrowers.
The federal flood insurance program is a major factor in the long-term financial viability of many Mississippi residences and businesses built in flood plains because the coverage would not otherwise be available.
Got to www.msc.fema.gov for more information.