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flood plain meeting

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Those with questions about a preliminary flood plain mapping program are encouraged to attend an Aug. 14 meeting with representatives of the N.C. Division of Emergency Management.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Salisbury Civic Center. Maps will be available for review starting at 5 p.m.
The maps are based on a 1 percent annual chance of flooding.
Ed Muir, Rowan County’s planning director, said the mapping program marks the first time in almost 30 years that an effort has been made to determine those who own property within a flood plain.
He said the Rowan County maps, copies of which have been on display for weeks in the town halls of several local municipalities, are much more precise than previous maps in indicating flood plains.
Muir said the maps were prompted by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a result of Hurricane Floyd, which did severe flood damage to much of eastern North Carolina.
Muir said the last time flood plain maps for the state were drawn was in 1979. He said those maps were vague, at best, with individual property owners having a hard time determining if their land was in a flood plain.
“Obviously, they’re very dated,” Muir said of the previous maps.
He compared the old maps and the new ones with going from playing Pong ó a simple video game that was popular in the late 1970s ó to today’s Nintendo.
The new maps, Muir said, are more precise, taking advantage of aerial photography and Light Detection and Ranging ó a recently-devised system for gauging altitude.
“They indicate exactly how high above contours property owners must build in order to be out of the flood plain,” Muir said of the new maps.
He said the maps will be especially welcome for those who own land around High Rock Lake where mapping flood plains had previously been all but impossible.
“It’s just better data all the way around,” Muir said.
He said that according to the new maps, 5,494 properties in Rowan County lie within flood plains. Those properties include 466 structures.
Notices about the Aug. 14 meeting will be mailed by the Rowan County Planning Department to affected land owners.
The only exceptions to the county’s mailings, Muir said, involve property owners in Salisbury. Muir said Salisbury will be responsible for informing its own land owners if their properties fall within flood plains. He said he didn’t know if the city would do so through mailings or newspaper notices.
Calls to Salisbury officials were not returned Friday.
Muir said notices regarding the affected properties will likely be mailed to banks holding mortgages.
Most banks, he said, will probably require flood insurance for property owners whose land lies in a flood plain.
But he said that if property owners don’t have flood insurance and just find out their properties are within a flood plain, they’ll get better rates because they’ll be grandfathered in under the old maps.
Muir said anyone who feels their property doesn’t deserve flood plain designation can appeal the ruling to the state. More information on such appeals will be available at next week’s meeting.
Muir said it will be at least six months before the new maps are certified.
Copies of the maps are available for viewing at:
– China Grove Town Hall, 205 Swink St.
– Landis Town Hall, 312 S. Main St.
– Rowan County Planning Development, 130 W. Innes St.
– Salisbury City Hall, 217 S. Main St.
– Spencer Town Hall, 600 S. Salisbury Ave.
Rowan County is part of the Yadkin River Basin, meaning all rain that falls here drains to the Yadkin River.
nnnContact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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