Commissioners Give Floodplain Plan Update

A mallard takes a swim on Big Goose Creek, which is in the floodplain. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)
A mallard takes a swim on Big Goose Creek, which is in the floodplain. (Photo by Leslie Stratmoen)

The floodplain management plan for Sheridan County, that must be in place by January, has undergone a few changes recently, and become confusing to some.

So, News Director Leslie Stratmoen discussed the plan in detail this week, with two of the commissioners, in hopes of gaining a better understanding.

Here's the report.

As reported earlier in the week, the Sheridan County Commission has decided to hold the final discussion of the floodplain management plan next month. The discussion will be Dec. 3, with the final vote set for Dec. 17, during regular meetings, which start at 9 in the morning at the courthouse.

In an effort to better understand why the plan is necessary and where the document stands at this point, we asked commissioner Mike Nickel to give a recap. He started by saying, the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, through FEMA, enables property owners to purchase insurance as a protection against flood losses, in exchange for state and community floodplain management regulations that reduce further flood damages.

The county's Public Works Director Rod Liesinger said the plan dates back to 1989, so needs the periodic updates.

But this time, he said, there are a couple of major changes.

Commissioner Tom Ringley further explained that during a recent public meeting, the commission amended the requirement that new construction be a foot above the base flood elevation, but the requirement still includes agricultural buildings.

Now, the commission chairman, Steve Maier said during a recent meeting that the plan must be in place by mid-January. If a community is suspended from the program due to lack of compliance, according to FEMA regulations, property owners will not be able to purchase NFIP flood insurance policies or renew existing ones.

Also, federal grants and loans for development in flood hazard areas will not be available under federal agencies like the following: Housing and Urban Development or HUD; the Environmental Protection Agency, known as the EPA; and the Small business Administration.

And, federal disaster assistance will not be provided to repair insurable buildings located in flood hazard areas for damage caused by a flood, and federal mortgage insurance or loan guarantees will not be provided in flood hazard areas like those written by the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The public works director and commissioners were interviewed this week on the Public Pulse news talk show, which can be heard, in its entirety, by going to the Public Pulse page.

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