USACE Buffalo District staff members Laura Ortiz, Paul Cocca, and Bob Remmers met with reporter Erica Brecher from WGRZ, Channel 2 on Wednesday, August 31 to discuss the role of the Corps in the multiagency flood mapping effort involving the Smokes Creek Flood Control Project in Lackawanna, NY. Community Planner Laura Ortiz explained that the first step in the process of developing revised flood insurance rate maps was to dredge the creek, which the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) completed in 2015. The second step, led by the Corps of Engineers, involves extensive analysis of the topographical data obtained from the dredging operation. The Corps expects to complete the analysis by mid-September. In the third and final step of the process, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will use the Corps analyses to assist in developing the revised flood insurance rate maps.
Brecher expressed that some Lackawanna residents were concerned about when the revised flood insurance rate maps would be available because the maps dictate whether their mortgage holders or lenders will require flood insurance. Federally backed mortgages such as FHA loans, for example, require homeowners in special flood hazard areas to maintain flood insurance. Ortiz reiterated that FEMA was responsible for the final determination with respect to the maps and how various locations are impacted. Cocca mentioned residents may request a formal review of their property by contacting FEMA if they disagree with the revised maps. “I want to stress that this effort is a partnership involving three agencies and each has its role in the process”, said Ortiz. “The Corps is committed to providing the best information possible so that residents can make responsible decisions with respect to flood insurance”. Residents may visit FEMA.gov for more information on flood zones and flood zone mapping.