Summit County plans to update floodplain maps
Public is encouraged to attend upcoming open house
February 3, 2017
Utah's near record-breaking snowpack already has Summit County Emergency Manger Chris Crowley thinking about the flood potential the runoff could create in the spring.
"We have started our county's flood mitigation and planning with our various departments and partners. Floods are a very real hazard and one that we want to be extremely prepared for no matter where you live, including the side of a mountain or a valley," Cowley said. "We have a tremendous amount of snow right now and this is something we want to be prepared against. The snow will melt and it needs somewhere to go. We want to make sure we divert it to the right place and people are aware of their risk."
Summit County, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state's Division of Emergency Management, is in the process of updating the county's floodplain maps to reflect the flood risk residents face countywide. The maps were last updated in 2006.
According to the National Flood Insurance Program, "communities use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains, lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and FEMA uses them to help determine what you should pay for flood insurance."
Summit County has scheduled an open house on Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the County Courthouse, in Coalville, to go over the remaining schedule for drafting the maps and the upcoming appeal period.
"This is a meeting that is open to all county residents and businesses. We want to make sure that everyone gets the information because it is important to understand the new floodplain maps and if you would be affected by those changes," Cowley said.
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The maps related to Summit County will be divided into smaller sections to highlight any changes and focus on the affected areas, Cowley said. He added, the affected areas could range in size from 200 feet to large swaths whole communities.
"It's a very practical approach, but we want people who could potentially be affected by the floodplain new to be aware and then we want them to take the next step, which is the practical level planning and preparation to mitigate the flood danger," Cowley said.
In November, Summit County property owners were sent preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for review. The maps area also available online.
"When we release the maps, there will be a 90-day appeal period after these meetings," said Jamie Huff, Risk Masking, Assessment and Planning (MAP) program manager for the state's division of emergency management. "Any appeals would need to be based on scientific information to change the linear outlines.
"They may be unhappy that they are identified in a floodplain, but they do change over time and this is updated information to reflect that," Huff said.
If there are no appeals filed, the maps will be adopted after six months, Huff said, adding "in the fall or winter of 2017 is when we are expecting the maps will go into effect." However, she said the maps can always be appealed outside of the map revision process.
"We are using better information from the previous maps and we are hoping with this better information property owners can protect themselves in the event of a flood, whether it be through mitigation efforts on their properties or through purchasing flood insurance," Huff said.
Two additional open house meetings are expected to be held in South Summit and the Kimball Junction area, Huff said.
Crowley said the new floodplain maps will also be the main topic discussed at the next Summit County's emergency planning group meet. The group meets every first Tuesday of each quarter at 11 a.m. at the Summit County Health Department.
"We invite everyone to attend our planning group. We want people to be aware, we want them to plan for the potential of a flood and we want them to be covered and make sure they have adequate insurance coverage," Crowley said. "We will use this as a springboard to promote that planning group and to help towns and the county plan against all hazards."
To view the open house flyer go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4464. To view the draft maps, go to http://fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=0edbf8f14cfb466bb4171f8e49204fee .