Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

May 21, 2013

New flood plain maps for Boyd

CATLETTSBURG — New flood plain maps for Boyd County will go into effect this summer.  

The maps are the culmination of nearly four years of work by county officials to have the Federal Emergency Management Agency update the information, which is used for insurance purposes and to permit new development.  

Not all of Boyd County was remapped, but areas that officials had deemed high priority were given a look, which resulted in some changes, said flood plain coordinator Steve Sturgill. The new maps will go into effect Aug. 1.

On Tuesday, the Boyd County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of a new flood damage prevention ordinance required as part of the process. It will get a second reading June 4.

Boyd County officials first began working with state and FEMA officials to update the maps in 2009. At that time, they requested a full update to the county’s maps with special attention to the U.S. 60 corridor because “there is a lot of pressure in that area for development,” Sturgill said.

The old maps, he said, has information that dates to 1980. In 2004, the county’s maps were digitized and only data along the Ohio River was updated.

Recent flooding problems in Boyd, however, have occurred mostly in the county where information was old or nonexistent. That is where the majority of growth is happening, and for those reasons, Boyd officials wanted the update, Sturgill said.

“It’s a long process because there is so much work that has to be done,” he said. About 18 months ago, Boyd officials sat down with the state’s contractor, AE Com of Atlanta, and  began “giving them details on areas that needed special attention,” Sturgill said. Last summer the company used a specialized aircraft equipped with a laser, called Lidar, to fly over the county to take measurements of area elevation.

“We got preliminary maps last year and submitted questions. That is when we found out that we didn’t get a complete rework of the county due to budget restraints,” he said.

The state is footing the bill for the updates. All 120 counties have or are undergoing updates to their flood maps, according to Sturgill. AE Com is also doing projects in seven other counties simultaneously with Boyd, he said.

The new maps will be a significant improvement over the old ones, Sturgill said. “The maps are better, there is more detail. The fly-over resulted in more accurate elevation levels and the base flood plain. They are more accurate and will be easier to read.”

“I don’t know how many places are going to be different,” Sturgill said, adding he knows of a few. Areas not previously mapped and without designations will soon have them, he said.

Residents with questions about their property can make appointments with county officials after Aug. 1, Sturgill said. Two areas where changes have occurred are along Iowa Street in Westwood and the area along Cannonsburg Road and Midland Trail in the vicinity of the Cannonsburg Volunteer Fire Department. Iowa Street, an area with repeat flooding, was moved into the flood plain, while the CVFD’s station was moved out of the flood plain.

Property in a flood plain with federally backed loans or mortgages is required to have flood insurance. Sturgill said those requirements are not handled by his office, but by banks and loan companies. Flood insurance, he said, is highly suggested for all properties, especially those in a flood plain.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at (606) 326-2653 or by email at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com

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