City and County officials met with members of the East Tennessee Regional Planning Office and contractors working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a flood zone mapping needs assessment meeting on Tuesday, May 15. The purpose of the meeting was to seek county help in identifying problem areas with the 1970's flood zone map.
As frequent readers will recall, several areas in the New Tazewell are identified as being in a flood zone despite the fact that the residences are 20-30 feet above high water levels. While the likelihood of flood in a few of these areas is slim, the federal government now requires that mortgage lenders check flood maps being issuing a new mortgage. Being erroneously included in a flood zone can cost a homeowner a great deal of money and, in some cases, has impacted sales of local property.
Tennessee and its local governments have participated in the National Flood Insurance Program since 1968. Participation in the program makes flood insurance available to individual property owners, and makes some flood disaster assistance available as well. For the program to be successful three elements have to be in place. Government must accept and commit to the flood plain management principles of the National Flood Insurance Program.
Second, each city or county that chooses to participate must adopt flood management regulations and enforce those rules for flood plain development. (Currently, Claiborne County's flood zone ordinance requires revision.)
And third, both state and local governments must have accurate and available flood risk identification tools on which to base their land management decisions.
FEMA has contracted with URS and Watershed Concepts to create a new flood zone map for Claiborne and Union County. While no money has been provided for an actual survey, the contractors will be using Tennessee Based Mapping Data, TVA mapping data, USGS and Army Corps of Engineer topographic data to create a better topographic map that will depict flood zones. The map will also include county and state roads and individual property parcels. (Owners of individual parcels will not be identified, just the property lines from county tax maps.) Contractors have also been given access to FEMA