Feds reject Hood’s request to waive flood ordinance
Published: December 7,2011
MISSISSIPPI DELTA — The federal government has rejected a request for a waiver from a flood mitigation ordinance for hunting and fishing camps located in the Mississippi Delta.
The Bolivar Commercial reports it had obtained a copy of a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Attorney General Jim Hood in which FEMA rejected the request.
Spring floods along the Mississippi River not only destroyed homes and businesses but also recreational areas.
In August, Hood asked that FEMA honor “state law and waive enforcement of flood ordinances on flooded fish and hunting camps.”
Under FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Ordinance, all structures located in certain flood prone areas must be elevated over the base flood elevation, or the 100 year flood plain. FEMA said there will be no exceptions.
Also, in order for counties to be eligible for flood aid, FEMA requires them to adopt and enforce their ordinances without regard for any state law exception.
The National Flood Insurance Act makes noncompliant hunting and fishing camps ineligible to purchase federal flood insurance.
Hood said state law prohibits counties and cities from enforcing building codes, including local floodplain management ordinances, against qualified hunting and fishing camps.
David Miller, associate administrator for the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, said the state law is in conflict with the floodplain management requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program.
“There is a requirement that a community must adopt adequate floodplain management regulations before joining the NFIP and is a condition of eligibility that cannot be waived.
“If a community lacks the ability to legally enforce its floodplain management ordinance uniformly, then it is not in compliance with the NFIP,” Miller wrote in the letter.
Miller said if flooding occurs in a suspended community, most types of federal disaster assistance to individuals and households for housing and personal property would not be available.
He said if the state wants to its participation in NFIP, then the Legislature must change the law.
If nothing is done, Miller said Mississippi communities would be suspended from the NFIP effective on May 5, 2012.
“This is not simply a matter of residences in Bolivar County or the Delta Region,” said Bill Quinton, director of the Bolivar County Emergency Management Agency. “Everyone across the state, including the Gulf Coast, could lose federal funding needed to help rebuild after flooding disasters.”
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