UPDATE: Property owners fear $100/month insurance increase from FEMA findings
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
Du Wayne Harvey's going on twenty years cutting hair in his Leeds barber shop. He says its never flooded, and neither have the neighbors. But, Harvey was told last week that he's going to have to buy flood insurance.
"It raises my insurance up $100 a month," he estimated.
In 2011, parts of town stood under flood waters, but not the north end. They haven't seen flood waters since the 1950's. That's when a levee was built around the Floyd River, to keep the neighborhood dry. And has it ever been, for the last year folks in Leeds have been dealing not with water, but with drought.
"Certainly there is no more expectation that this area is going to flood than there was before," said Public Works Director Jade Dundas.
So, why now? Dundas explained that Hurricane Katrina triggered a nationwide study of levees. FEMA found the levee over the Floyd River in excellent condition. But, they also discovered the potential for localized ground water flooding, or ponding, during heavy rains.
"To now call for flood insurance I don't think makes a whole lot of sense," said Dr. Robyn Raskin, owner of Inspire Chiropractic and Wellness Spa.
The city does plan to fix the pipes under this part of town in the hopes of getting some people off of flood insurance.
"We can redirect any kind of ponded water to make sure it's left impactful for residents and businesses. Make alterations to the drainage system and the gate system for the Floyd River," explained Dundas.
Property owners hope the changes satisfy the federal government.
"Especially when it seems the risk is relatively low for us," added Dr. Raskin.
The deadline is summer of 2014.
Two public meetings are planned for Wednesday to discuss the impact of FEMA's decision on local property owners. The first is at 2:00 p.m. at City Hall. The second is at 7 p.m. at Leeds Elementary.
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