Flood-map reissue planned after errors found
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say they're going back to the drawing board on preliminary flood-insurance rate maps.
MOUNT VERNON — Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say they're going back to the drawing board on preliminary flood-insurance rate maps.
It isn't because they agree with local officials that the maps overstate flooding potential for the area. It's because of cartographical errors — such as a hill in La Conner that doesn't even appear on the maps.
The maps released last week showed the area of the hill completely under water during a 100-year flood.
The maps are meant to guide development regulations in the flood plain and designate which areas need flood insurance.
FEMA has spent years developing the maps that were released last week. But with a mounting list of errors, FEMA announced Tuesday it would reissue maps in three to six months.
City and county officials have discussed appeals because they say the dramatic increase in flood elevations could make some new flood-protection projects too costly and would restrain development.
Mark Carey, FEMA Region 10 Mitigation Division director, said the released maps were meant to be preliminaries subject to some tinkering after feedback. But so many errors emerged that FEMA decided to draft a whole new set.
The maps were produced in Virginia by longtime FEMA contractor Michael Baker Jr. Inc.
"They are embarrassed. We are embarrassed. I have been told that FEMA is going to do a performance audit on the contractor to find out what went wrong," Carey said.
Meanwhile, FEMA will be much more involved in "quality control," he said.
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