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Flood maps expected by June

A new digital flood insurance rate map for the Fargo, West Fargo, Horace and Harwood areas could be ready by June 1, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official said Tuesday.

A new digital flood insurance rate map for the Fargo, West Fargo, Horace and Harwood areas could be ready by June 1, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official said Tuesday.

FEMA also is ready to begin the two-year process to create the digital flood risk maps for several Cass County townships west of the metro area, said Nancy Steinberger, FEMA's regional hydraulic engineer.

Steinberger and engineers working for FEMA met with Fargo and Cass officials in two separate meetings.

The Fargo meeting included identifying new levees that must be certified (Veterans Affairs hospital/Ridgewood Flood Control Project) and which old levees, including Dike East/Dike West, need to be repaired or increased in elevation, and get at least temporary certification to be counted as protection in the new flood risk maps.

It takes a year to finalize the maps once they're released. After that, homes and businesses with mortgages must buy flood insurance if they're in the 100-year flood plain.

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The new digital mapping initiative for outlying townships will include areas where the Sheyenne and Maple rivers and Swan Creek flow, which will require more study, Steinberger said.

Several local officials encouraged FEMA to gather better data on the flood risks throughout the rural townships before approving flood risk maps for them.

"My concern is what I'm seeing is the potential to be mapping areas that we know are flood prone that haven't had a detailed study to tell the communities how flood prone (they are)," said Jeff Volk, president of West Fargo's Moore Engineering. "How do you do good, sound flood plain management in them without the best information?"

Moore Engineering handles city engineer duties for West Fargo. The firm also designed Fargo's Southside Flood Protection Project.

Steinberger said data collected several years ago by a West Coast engineering firm may be used for the outlying flood risk maps. But that idea received a cool reception from local officials, who questioned its accuracy.

Volk and Fargo City Engineer Mark Bittner said if better mapping and data is needed to produce accurate flood risk maps, those cities would chip in to see the job done right.

"There are areas west of the community that have terrible maps, and I just want to make sure they don't have to get them back," Volk said.

Some areas will get detailed studies, but in others, FEMA will settle for approximate information due to limited funding, Steinberger said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Related Topics: CASS COUNTYHORACEWEST FARGO
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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