The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been revising coastal flood-plain maps (Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) for years, taking local areas one by one. And one by one, localities have responded to FEMA’s proposed new maps — usually with some form of resistance.
For three towns on the shore south of Boston, Mass., where the Massachusetts Bay meets the Cape Cod Bay, that resistance has taken the form of an appeal to the agency to correct what the towns see as errors in the new maps. The towns are getting mixed results, according to local press reports.
One appeal, launched by the towns of Scituate and Marshfield, hit a dead end, according to a report in the Patriot Ledger (see: “Scituate, Marshfield face setback in FEMA flood map appeal,” by Kristi Funderburk). “Officials from the towns took two approaches to stop implementation, and when FEMA rejected one—which argued the federal agency did not properly follow regulations set by the National Flood Insurance Program—each town hired engineering firms to find evidence needed for an appeal,” the paper reports. “A scientific panel created to consider the firms’ findings recently denied the towns’ appeal. ‘It’s disappointing, but not unexpected,’ Scituate Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said Tuesday night when she discussed the news with selectmen.”
A day later, however, the Patriot Ledger reported better luck for the towns on another appeal (see: “FEMA revising Marshfield, Scituate, Duxbury flood maps,” by Hannah Sparks and Kristi Funderburk). “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is revising its preliminary flood maps after accepting a joint appeal that Scituate, Marshfield and Duxbury filed through the Woods Hole Group Inc.,” the paper reports. “Accepting the appeal means FEMA agrees with the points made and will work in the changes to create new maps, said Kerry Bogdan, a senior engineer for FEMA Region 1. There is no cost to the towns for the revision.”
Any revisions are likely to be minor, Bogdan said. But the revision will give townsfolk another chance to respond: “Bogdan said FEMA expects to have the newly revised maps ready to release this fall, likely in early October. Community members will be notified of any changes and there will be a 30-day public comment period,” the paper reports. “During that period, Marshfield Selectmen Chairman Matthew McDonough said the town will make sure residents have the opportunity to review the new maps.”
Said McDonough: ““We’re not going to get caught flat-footed on this.”