100-year flood plain being redrawn in Fargo-MoorheadFargo and Moorhead residents will learn this fall whether their homes or businesses are among about 3,800 structures to be labeled as needing high-risk flood insurance by new 100-year flood plain maps, officials say.
By: Craig McEwen and Tracy Frank, The Forum
Fargo and Moorhead residents will learn this fall whether their homes or businesses are among about 3,800 structures to be labeled as needing high-risk flood insurance by new 100-year flood plain maps, officials say.
The flood insurance rate maps are going through final checks by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but city engineers in both towns have had access to preliminary maps.
Now you do, too.
The Forum requested the maps for both cities and has posted detailed, searchable versions of them on its Web site, www.inforum.com.
The Flood of 1997 was considered a 100-year flood event. Properties in the 100-year flood plain must carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage, local and federal officials say.
Officials caution that the maps aren’t finalized. Some streets, homes or businesses marked in the blue of the flood plain may not ultimately be considered at risk. Others may be added. But the maps are a rough indicator of what is to come.
Plans are to release Fargo’s flood insurance rate map in September, with an initial public meeting in October, said Barb Fitzpatrick, a National Flood Insurance Program manager for FEMA’s Denver office. About one year after its release – fall 2009 – it will be made official and insurance will be required, she said.
Fargo Senior Engineer April Walker estimates 2,675 homes and other buildings – 2,390 of them south of Interstate 94 – will be added to the 100-year flood plain. Another 242 structures in the city’s extraterritorial area will likely be classed as high risk, too, she said.
Moorhead City Engineer Bob Zimmerman estimates 900 more buildings will be included in that town’s new 100-year flood plain map, which he has been told will be released this fall.
Fargo got its first look at the FEMA preliminary map last October, Walker said. The city has shared a simplified version of the map with residents of riverside and rural subdivisions since February in hearings laying out the need for a Southside Flood Control project.
Zimmerman said Moorhead has had the preliminary map in hand for a year, but it has not been shared with the public unless residents have phoned in with questions.
In Moorhead, the flood plain expands along the length of the river, but like Fargo, many of the effects are seen in subdivisions south of I-94, officials said.
The cost of insurance can be a kick in the wallet.
To insure a $150,000 home without a basement in a high-risk “A” zone, plus $50,000 in contents, costs $1,653 a year, not including policy fees, according to floodsmart.gov, the National Flood Insurance Program Web site.
Fargo officials want to build a $100 million flood protection project to take the vast majority of the city’s south side, extraterritorial land and several more sections of rural Cass County out of the 100-year flood plain.
But even if the plan is approved by landowners in good order, the project won’t be functionally complete until 2011, and not fully complete until 2012. It’s not until then that Fargo can petition to have protected lands removed from the flood map.
Moorhead has no massive flood control plan on the drawing board. Instead, Zimmerman said city officials would rather develop a comprehensive metro-area flood control plan.
“I guess it really comes back to, should we be looking at flood protection for the entire city proper … or for a localized protection,” Zimmerman said. “I think that’s kind of a decision point for our council.”
He said the City Council on Aug. 18 plans to discuss whether the city should work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop options and determine costs and benefits for a metrowide plan.
Nearly all land in West Fargo’s city limits is protected by the Sheyenne and Horace diversion projects, City Engineer Kevin Bucholz said. Not protected are West Fargo’s sewage lagoons, land north of 12th Avenue North and land west of the diversion channel built a mile west of County Road 17, he said.
A digital map for rural Cass County is expected to be produced in another year or two, FEMA officials said.
Forum reporter Kim Winnegge contributed to this article
Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583