Officials ask FEMA to lift flood zones

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – Kirk Mooney admits that he probably would not buy flood insurance if he didn’t have to.

&uot;I&160;doubt I would … because it hasn’t flooded on my street since I’ve been here, and I’ve lived here six years,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I don’t think there’s much chance of it flooding here.&uot;

Mooney, an Apple Street resident, lives in one of two Vidalia neighborhoods that are designated as flood zones by the federal government but haven’t seen widespread flooding in decades, according to local officials. But to finance houses there, people still have to purchase flood insurance at an average cost of $264 per year, said Concordia Parish Police Jury President Fred Falkenheiner.

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So at his request, the jury on Monday passed a resolution asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to remap Vidalia, lifting the areas’ flood zone designations. Vidalia aldermen are expected to pass a similar resolution Dec. 14.

If FEMA changed its map to remove the flood zone designations, those who finance properties in those areas would not be required to buy flood insurance.

&uot;Right now, I&160;have insurance on the house and its contents,&uot;&160;said Pear Street resident Herman Fortenberry. &uot;If this (change) happened, I&160;would probably keep insurance on the structure just in case, and drop the rest of it.&uot;

The zones encompass most of the &uot;Orchard&uot; neighborhood — streets like Peach, Apple and Plum — and Vidalia’s northeast corner, including streets North Oak, Alabama and Laurel. Those areas are home to more than 280 households and a handful of businesses and churches.

To amend the current FEMA map, which was published in 1982, the chief executive officer of the local governing body must request a letter of map revision from FEMA.

That officer must also send to scientific and technical data to support the proposed change. Based on a review of that data, FEMA could decide to change its maps of the area. Such changes could take one year or longer.

Falkenheiner said he asked for the resolution because, in his job at Louisiana Central Bank, he sees many people who must buy such insurance to finance a home. &uot;And that can get expensive,&uot; he said.

Still, he said the areas in question have not flooded in at least 60 years. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said he also cannot remember widespread flooding in those areas.

And with improvements being made to the Vidalia Canal, which runs through the Orchard area, that neighborhood will be even less likely to flood in the future, Copeland said.