Members of the Arkansas congressional delegation sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requesting that all Arkansas counties affected by new flood maps be given a 90-day extension to pass a city floodplain management ordinance. On Monday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate granted Crittenden County a 90-day extension after meeting with community officials and residents in West Memphis, Arkansas.
The letter, signed by Senators Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, along with Congressman Marion Berry, said, "FEMA's implementation of the Flood Map Modernization Program has been confusing and frustrating for us and our constituents. The lack of communication and coordination between FEMA and local officials is unacceptable and the root of many ongoing problems. Local leaders need more time to evaluate floodplain management ordinances and the effect of those ordinances on their residents. We ask that you provide that time."
The text of the full letter is below:
The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate:
Thank you for taking the time to travel to West Memphis, Arkansas, to speak with our constituents regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Flood Map Modernization Program. We appreciate your time and attention.
It is our understanding that, as a result of this meeting, you granted Crittenden County, Arkansas, a 90-day extension by which to pass a city floodplain management ordinance. This extension will allow county officials to evaluate proposed flood maps and assess options for protecting residents from flood risks. It is our hope that FEMA and the communities in Crittenden County will be able to come together and resolve this situation satisfactorily within that time frame. We will certainly monitor progress closely.
As you know, on Friday, June 18, 2010, Mississippi County, Arkansas, became ineligible for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program, despite a FEMA requirement to participate, because the local government had been unable to pass a floodplain management ordinance approved by FEMA. This situation results in some community residents and structures being cut off from federal disaster assistance and federal financial assistance for acquisition or construction. This is a troubling scenario for Arkansas communities.
It is unacceptable that the Federal government would not provide disaster assistance to our communities if it were needed. Furthermore, the prohibition on mortgage loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, insured by the Federal Housing Administration or secured by the Rural Economic and Community Development Services could be devastating to the county. This heavy handed approach to updating our nation's flood maps could have drastic economic implications for many of our communities.
Based on these considerations, we ask that you allow all communities in Arkansas, in particular, Mississippi County, Arkansas, additional time by which to pass a floodplain management ordinance.
FEMA's implementation of the Flood Map Modernization Program has been confusing and frustrating for us and our constituents. The lack of communication and coordination between FEMA and local officials is unacceptable and the root of many ongoing problems. Local leaders need more time to evaluate floodplain management ordinances and the effect of those ordinances on their residents. We ask that you provide that time.
Updating our nation's Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) is an important task, and we support the effort to secure better information to educate residents about flood risk in their communities. Again, thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your response.
Senator Blanche L. Lincoln
Senator Mark Pryor
Congressman Marion Berry