SANATOGA PA – It’s been several decades since the federal government developed its first floodplain maps, the documents that show which geographical areas in a community are most susceptible to local flooding. It’s also been about 18 years since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updated flood maps for Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township.
Change is coming, though, according to township Manager Rodney Hawthorne, and as he told the Board of Commissioners recently, “it’s going to cost us a few bucks.”
Congress authorized FEMA in 2003 to begin an ambitious program to both digitize flood maps, so they could be accessed by computers, and to make them more accurate. That work is largely complete and, primarily because of increased development, many maps have been substantially revised.
Some properties formerly considered to be part of a floodplain no longer are. Others, once considered outside a floodplain, now may be in one. In Lower Pottsgrove, properties primarily affected are those along the north bank of the Schuylkill River, and on either side of Sanatoga Creek, Hartenstine Creek, and Sprogel’s Run and their tributaries, or feeder streams.
What’s really changed, in FEMA’s language, are map “overlays” that show specific flooding areas down to tens of feet from the center of a stream bed. Because its revisions could affect property insurance rates, among other things, FEMA wants to ensure owners know if their land and buildings are either in or out of flood danger.
That’s where the township comes in.
FEMA has directed local municipalities to be the bearer of its news to their taxpayers. Lower Pottsgrove could have “a couple of hundred” affected properties whose owners, at its cost, must be notified of the flood map changes and advised to purchase appropriate insurance. “It’s just another unfunded mandate we have to pay for,” Hawthorne groused to the board during its Jan. 20 meeting.
Commissioners agreed, shrugged, and then unanimously voted to approve the expense.
Affected property owners will be notified by postcard in coming weeks. It will provide the name and phone number of a FEMA representative to call for more information.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ meeting of Jan. 20):
- Lower Pottsgrove Flood Map Changes Come At A Price
- Townships Make Progress, Albeit Slow, In 422 Plans
- Lower Pottsgrove, Lamar Negotiating Over Sign Request
- Township Approves 12-Year Comcast Franchise Deal
- Potential Conflict Causes Township Solicitor To Opt Out
- All Signs Point To More Township Signage Talk Tonight
Flood map image from FEMA