Highland leaders are finding that their city was named improperly, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
There is a lot more “low land” than they realized.
FEMA is trying to impose new flood maps on the city that triple the land considered at risk of flooding. The parcels needing flood insurance will increase from 135 to 365. Highland’s median home value is more than $150,000 and flood insurance would run at least $1,000 a year on that home. Based on those numbers, the flood insurance bills for those 230 additional properties will total about $230,000 a year. Those 230 property owners will have little option but to get the insurance if they have a mortgage.
Beyond that, the heart of the city and much of Highland’s development corridor is in the proposed flood zone. Flood designations tend to chill development, so city leaders are more than a little motivated to fix this issue.
They want to repair a culvert under the CSX railroad tracks that would allow water to flow more freely and thus prompt FEMA to consider a smaller area to be flood prone. Trouble is, CSX runs 10 trains a day over that culvert and seems to be in no hurry to help. They met Aug. 28, then Highland paid CSX $11,500 for their own engineering costs and now the city is waiting.
They called U.S. Rep. John Shimkus to prod the railroad along.
But in reality, it sounds like Shimkus should be after FEMA.
The map “revisions” contain lots of old info, including buildings that are gone. FEMA does not account for several new developments, such as the new hospital, which were required to put in their own retention ponds. The city spent $127,000 pointing out those mistakes and coming up with the rail culvert fix, which will be an additional cost of less than $100,000 if they get CSX on board.
Plus the FEMA maps fly in the face of history.
FEMA’s projections show flooding in parts of Highland that didn’t flood during the inundation on April 18, 2013, when 4.4 inches of rain fell on the city. It shows areas of flooding that didn’t happen in 1993, when FEMA’s favored scenario of the Kaskaskia River backing up local creeks should have been at its worst.
Some bureaucrat using flawed data that fails to track with a community’s experience should not have the power to cost residents $230,000. Makes you wonder whether FEMA’s trying to force folks who will never flood into the insurance pool to pay for folks they know will flood.
Are you listening, Rep. Shimkus?