UPDATE: Two meetings invite frustration over flood impact
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
The federal government says the city's water drainage system on the north side of town needs some upgrades.
Beginning in 2014, people who live near the Floyd River, between 4th and 44th Street and 18th and Outer Drive will be forced to make the extra purchase. Historic 4th Street is not included.
City officials explained to homeowners, who were gathered at Leeds Elementary Wednesday night, that if the Floyd channel's flood gates were forced to close, water could collect outside the levee and cause interior flooding.
However, not even the historic Missouri River flood of 2011 forced the flood gates on the Floyd to close.
Homeowners are worried about their costs going up and their property values going down.
"The way it sounds it could be years down the road before it will get corrected everybody's going to be stuck in the affected areas with the higher insurance," said Richard Lesline.
"When you want to sell your house, that doesn't help, if you know that you're either in or very close to a flood plane," added Connie Nolen.
"I don't know where they come up with this stuff. I'm not happy with it. Seems like the minds are already made up," said Jim Koser.
Those whose mortgages are paid off aren't required to buy flood insurance, but officials highly-recommend they do.
Also Wednesday, people crowded into city council chambers to learn why an area that last saw flooding half a century ago is now under FEMA's microscope.
The city's divided the flood zones into three areas, Lewis, Leeds, and Stueben. In total, about 200 home and business owners are impacted.
"Those drainage systems pond up behind the levee," said Franklin Wagner.
When the Floyd's full, there's no place for that water to go. That's the finding from FEMA, and the reason behind the flood insurance requirement.
"Flood insurance is not cheap," said Terry Hegarty, a members of St. Michael's School Building Committee.
St. Michael's Catholic School stood through the flood of '53. Now, they're on the list in 2013.
"It's nothing we'd ever seen before, but it's nothing we want to see again," said Hegarty.
Irving Jensen remembered rain waters inundating the Floyd River valley back then.
"It was very quick," said Jensen, who also owns property in the area.
A levee built in the 60's has kept the surrounding area dry.
"We have to evaluate drainage systems behind the levees," explained Wagner.
"Various industries can be affected," said Jensen.
Many argue the area is already protected from a major flood event.
"If this only happens once every 500 years, I don't think we're going to face that again," said Hegarty.
The city says it will upgrade the sewer system's capacity to take people off flood insurance. The work required will include several multi-million dollar projects, according to Wagner. That work won't be finished by FEMA's 2014 deadline, which means most of those affected will have to purchase flood insurance in the short term.
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