U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (MO-08) today sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency criticizing their handling of flood hazard mapping in Scott County and urging the agency to honor its commitment to speedily review an appeal from the City of Sikeston.
"I know I am frustrated with the mistakes, the lack of responsiveness and the insensitivity to the situation in Southern Missouri. I can only imagine how property owners and residents feel about this matter," Emerson said. "I would hope that FEMA feels compelled to give timely, complete and fair consideration to any appeals that stem from their Southern Missouri map. This is such an important matter, not just for our economy, but also for the families who make their homes in our community. It deserves every attention from FEMA -- and total attention to detail. I will continue to hold them accountable until we get this right."
The text of Emerson's letter to Region VII Administrator Beth Freeman follows:
Ms. Beth Freeman
FEMA Region VII, Administrator
9221 Ward Parkway, Suite 300
Kansas City, MO. 64114-3372
Dear Administrator Freeman,
Thank you for accepting my invitation to Sikeston so that you could see firsthand the obvious mistakes that were made during the FEMA mapping process. I hope your visit was informative as you will be receiving requests in the very near future to change the new flood maps that the city was forced to accept.
As you saw during the driving tour there are areas that are now regarded as flood hazard areas that are in no danger of flooding during a rain event. This information should be useful when FEMA processes the added data they are going to receive in the near future from the city of Sikeston and concerned landowners. I appreciate your willingness to expedite this new data and get them incorporated into the flood maps ASAP.
As I told FEMA officials in Washington DC, Sikeston is entitled to an expedited process due to errors in public notification which excluded the City of Sikeston. I believe it is only fair to residents of that community, who may not have known that they were being subjected to a revision of the map, to give them a swift review of documents which support their exclusion from changes in the flood hazard area.
The importance of this issue to the constituents I represent and to Americans around the country is reflected in a provision I included in the FY 2013 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives:
The Committee is concerned with the implementation of the FEMA flood mapping program and its potential effect on communities who are newly designated in flood hazard zones. The Committee is concerned communities which are designated in a new flood hazard zone for purposes of Flood Insurance Rate Maps have not been granted adequate time to review the new maps before having to make the determination whether or not to adopt the new map or fall out of compliance with the national flood insurance program. The Committee encourages FEMA grant flexibility to communities upon their request for additional time to review the information by FEMA and consult with their citizens on how to best proceed while maintaining participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Furthermore, it is tremendously frustrating that my constituents have had no regular contact from FEMA throughout this process and instead are expected to expend their own resources to correct maps which are in many areas inadequate, incomplete or deficient.
I will continue to be involved with this issue both in Missouri and in Washington DC. Thank you for your expedient resolution to this matter.
Jo Ann Emerson
Member of Congress