FEMA Responds To Concerns About Expensive Levee Inspections
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(KMOX)-As two metro east villages search for a way to pay for what they say are unnecessary federally mandated levee inspections, the agency requiring those inspections says it feels their pain, but can’t help them.
As KMOX reported last week, the villages of New Athens and Prairie Du Rocher are expecting to pay in the neighborhood of $1 million to hire private engineers to inspect their levees, levees they say have never been found to be deficient by the Corps of Engineers.
Federal Emergency Management Agency civil engineer Suzanne Vermeer has met with officials in both villages, and says she understands the challenges they face. But she says the levees have to meet the federal standards, “It is a national standard…that applies to all levees nationwide as far as what data is required to map the flood risk.”
Vermeer says it’s her agency’s job to certify the levees and it’s not authorized to help fund the inspections, “The community can hire different engineers, and they may charge different amounts of money, so it’s really between the community and the engineer as to the cost associated with evaluating the data for their levee.”
New Athens Mayor Gary Kearns says his village of 2,000 residents is looking at anywhere from $350,000 to $1 million. Prairie Du Rocher Mayor Ernie Doiron says his village of 604 residents is expecting to pay at least $1 million.
Vermeer points out that each village signed an agreement to have their levees meet the standards, but officials from both villages say they had to sign the agreement, or the levees would have been decertified two years ago. desertification would result in FEMA eliminating the levees from the new flood maps, causing flood insurance rates behind them to skyrocket.
Vermeer says FEMA has not set a hard deadline for the inspections to be completed and hasn’t set a date for releasing the new flood maps.
She says FEMA is working with the villages but the bottom line is that there are national standards the levees must meet.