The City of Shady Cove was notified on September 30 by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that probation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will end November 1. The probation that began July 2007 was for violations in the floodplain by property owners not meeting the minimum standards of NFIP and Shady Cove’s Flood Control Ordinance. The probation cost homeowners in the floodplain an extra $50 annually on flood insurance, but after October 30 the charge will end.
“Getting off probation was an accomplishment for all of us. We worked as a team to make this happen,” said a satisfied Mayor Ruth Keith. The city accomplished more than FEMA expected. Keith also commended the involved property owners. They spent a lot of money becoming compliant and the community may not understand what these folks have gone through, she said.
To get off probation, the city hired Public Works Management (PWM) to assist in bringing properties into compliance. The elements of the compliance plan were documentation, identification of violations, enforcement, coordination with Jackson County and education. Certified Floodplain Manager, Becca Croft of PWM said, “An amazing amount of work went into it.”
Although probation will be lifted, the issue is far from over. There will still be some FEMA conditions to be met, said Keith. The city will continue making quarterly reports to FEMA on the progress being made. A copy of the interagency agreement between the city and the county, still under review, will be sent to FEMA. And any future building that requires no-rise analysis will also be sent to FEMA for review.
The city worked intensively with Jackson County to ensure that properties in the floodplain would be tagged for future permits to be in compliance with floodplain regulations.
Twenty-seven properties were on the original list of noncompliant homeowners. The list was whittled down gradually to two properties that are still out of compliance and may be taken to court. “It is very likely we will take legal action,” said Keith. Recent favorable communication with one of the property owners, however, may lower the number to one. If legal action is required, the noncompliant property owner or owners would need to show why they have not complied and why legal action should not continue, she explained.
City Administrator Elise Smurzynski said, “The key element in the progress to manage properties in the floodplain are that the plans accepted by FEMA are designed with the flexibility to work now and into the future.” Smurzynski added her appreciation of the work done by property owners in the flood plain. “We really appreciate those folks.”
Croft said, “I would emphasize that the city has done a tremendous amount of work to ensure that in the future, through the building process and the development process, violations like this would not be created. Safe homes will be built, in compliance with the local and federal violations. We will make sure the train does not come back to the station,” she emphasized, “The train is gone.”
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent