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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Pierce City flood map raises some questions

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The new flood zone map for Pierce City has left many questions for city officials. Shown above, the map shows the flood zone in blue. The old map did not include the industrial area north of the railroad tracks at the west end of town but encompassed most of the old downtown, from Main Street to the south.
A new Pierce City flood map from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been sent to city officials and has raised significant questions.

On display at City Hall, the map shows major changes in the 100-year flood zone. Most significantly, the territory around Larkin Creek and the downtown business district within the flood zone have been reduced.

Under the old map, the business district on Commercial Street and Main Street was in the flood zone. The new map removes the business area north of the railroad tracks from the flood zone.

On the east side of town, the old map confined the flood area to the banks of Larkin Creek. With the May 4, 2003, tornado, the heavy woods around the creek were destroyed and removed.

The new flood map widens the flood zone around Larkin Creek, taking in Gibbs Avenue to the south of Washington Avenue. The new map also encompasses the west end of the center of the city, from west of Pine Street, taking in the wood processing plant near the west railroad spur. The railroad tracks and Highway 37 are in the flood zone on the west end of the city.

"It's better in some areas and worse in others," said alderman Brian Jones, who was named to a committee to review the map.

Jones said the map will require some ordinance changes that have to be returned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by August. The letter accompanying the map provided no explanation for the changes but referred to a public comment period that has passed already.

Jones said this is the first time city officials have seen the new map. Most of the land zoned for industrial use is now in the flood zone, which will make future business development more difficult.

Jones said he is trying to research the map to find out its significance. He said the map may not distinguish elevations to identify exceptions.

Jeffery Myers, for example, constructed storage buildings at Elm and Halstead at a substantial elevation after the tornado, having assurances from FEMA that the structures were higher than the flood plane. The latest map includes Myers' buildings and all of Halstead Avenue in the flood zone.

At Monday's city council meeting, it was announced a public comment session on the map would be held in May.

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