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The City of Minot will appeal the latest floodplain map, challenging the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s map that includes a base flood level of 10,000 cubic feet per second.
The City Council voted Feb. 18 to move forward with the appeal, which could delay the implementation of FEMA’s flood maps by as long as two years. The current maps are scheduled to go into effect in early 2021.
City Engineer Lance Meyer told the Council there’s no guarantee the City’s appeal will be successful. He estimated the cost of the appeal to be as much as $250,000, but the potential savings for on insurance premiums would be far more than that. Area residents in the flood plain could save thousands of dollars in insurance premiums over several years until the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection project is completed.
FEMA notes that Minot has about 1,929 active flood insurance policies, with a total premium of just over $1 million. In two years, the total premiums could increase to approximately $1.6 million, with the potential for that to grow to $1.8 million if the number of premiums rises. If map implementation is delayed, the total premium in 2023 would be roughly $1.08 million, saving residents significant money.
“It’s a risk that the city needs to take, just looking at the potential impact,” Meyer said. “You know it might be less than a 50/50 shot at this, but I think if we have an opportunity for impact as large as this to the community, we should probably take it.”
Meyer said the City’s challenge will be based on hydrology throughout the entire Mouse River basin. FEMA’s estimate establishes a 10,000 cubic feet per second river flow, while the City estimates a river flow of closer to 8,000 cubic feet per second, which would remove numerous properties out of the flood plain.
“We do think there are some things that are valid that should be challenged. We have some issues with the way that they did it just because they’re very conservative,” Meyer said of FEMA. “So, from FEMA’s standpoint, they’re happy because they like the conservative number. From our standpoint, conservative means that we have a higher flow rate; there’s more properties in the 100-year floodplain.”
The City will have 90 days to submit all of its documentation to FEMA. A scientific review panel will study the information submitted from FEMA and the City. The appeal process could delay implementation of the FEMA maps from six months to possibly two years.
“Every delay tactic will help Minot residents in east Minot keep their insurance premiums lower, and I think we have to do this. It’s in the best interest of the community,” Council Member Shannon Straight said.
The appeal also serves as a reminder to purchase flood insurance if you are in the flood plain. If a resident purchases insurance now and keeps the policy active, they would be grandfathered into the lower rate zone until the FEMA maps eventually take effect. There would also be a limit on annual premium increases for those with grandfathered insurance policies.