U.S. Sens. John Thune, Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem gathered yesterday for their first delegation meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Associate Administrator for Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), David Miller, and FIMA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation, Roy Wright.
They called on the agency to finalize the new Sioux Falls flood plain map to reflect the levee upgrades along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek.
“I’ve been working with the Corps and the City of Sioux Falls on this project since 2008, and now that the city has held up its end of the bargain, it’s time for FEMA to work with city officials to expeditiously approve a new flood map that reflects the enhanced flood protection provided by these important improvements,” said Thune in a press release.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA began issuing new 100-year flood maps, which resulted in nearly 1,600 additional Sioux Falls homeowners and businesses being required to purchase costly federal flood insurance.
In 2008, the city and the Army Corps of Engineers worked out an agreement, prompted by Thune, to expedite construction of upgraded levees to decrease the size of the flood plain by allowing the city to fund the outstanding federal cost of the project, with the potential to be later reimbursed by the Corps.
This agreement led to a less costly and timelier completion of the levees, and the city has since been reimbursed by the Corps for the federal share of the project.
Now that the levees along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek have been upgraded and certified, it is up to FEMA to issue a new flood map reflecting the new, smaller flood plain in Sioux Falls.
Once a new flood map is finalized, many local residents and businesses will no longer be required to purchase federal flood insurance policies and others will have less expensive premiums due to the reduced risk of flooding. Without an updated flood plain map, economic development and construction along the Big Sioux River and Skunk Creek are significantly limited while developers wait for updated maps.