New flood maps will be shown March 18

Published 1:30 pm Monday, March 11, 2019

By Jeremy Weldon

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will make public its preliminary countywide Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) at an opening meeting in Panola County March 18. The maps cover the Tallahatchie Watershed which includes Panola County.

The updated maps are far more detailed than anything every produced for FEMA’s use, and could mean that the flood risk for people who live and do business in the county will change. The informal open house is set for Monday, March 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Panola County Extension Building on Hwy. 51 S. in Batesville.

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Chad Meek, who heads the county’s land development department, said he has only seen the new maps briefly and doesn’t know the details, but expects some changes to the classification of several acres of land across the county.

Flood insurance requirements and rates are determined by these official maps and some landowners will benefit while others have negative repercussions from the new maps.

“I’m sure there will be some changes in the new maps because the technology is so much better now than when the current ones were produced,” Meek said. “I’m anxious to see how this will affect Panola County landowners.”

A news release said attendees at the open house can expect to see paper or digital versions of the preliminary flood maps. Information tables will be set up around the room where staff from FEMA, the State of Mississippi, and engineer contractors will answer questions about flood insurance, engineering, and development permit requirements.

After the open house in Panola County and another event the next day (March 19) in Charleston, there will be a 90-day appeal and comment period. Once those issues have been addressed, communities will have six months before the maps take effect.

Counties and municipalities will use this time period to adopt the new flood maps into their local ordinances.

Adoption of the new flood maps will make county properties eligible for federal disaster assistance to repair insurable buildings located within Special Flood Hazard Areas.

FEMA and state officials said reasons for attendance include:

  • ● Finding out if your homes or business is affected by changes in designations of high-risk special flood hazard areas.
  • ● Asking questions about how map changes will affect your flood insurance premiums,
  • ● Learning about the engineering behind the new maps.
  • ● Finding out how to properly file an appeal if necessary.