COLLINSVILLE, IL., October 1, 2010 … A recent exchange of letters between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District (FPD) Council reinforces that the agency is once again demonstrating inequity in its approach to developing its new flood insurance rate maps (FIRMS) for the Metro East compared to the rest of the St. Louis region.
The Sept. 15th letter from FEMA, which was sent to all the impacted communities and the FPD Council, stated that the agency would be issuing a new set of preliminary maps for St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri by September 30, 2010 and initiating a brand new appeal process in these counties. They are not planning to take the same preliminary maps approach in the Metro East region, but instead they will be issuing appeal resolution letters regarding earlier FIRMs to communities in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties in Illinois.
FEMA’s issuance of revised preliminary maps for the Missouri counties will reopen the statutory appeals process for those Missouri communities. Simultaneously ruling on the existing appeals from the Illinois counties will close the appeals process for the Illinois communities, with the exception of a newly created Scientific Resolution Panel process. This puts the Metro East at a distinct disadvantage, creating a situation in which final FIRMs will be imposed at a much earlier time than in neighboring Missouri counties.
“We believe that FEMA’s approach, as outlined in its letter, violates the letter and spirit of the legislation crafted and passed by Congressmen Jerry Costello and John Shimkus, and Senator Dick Durbin in 2008 that required FEMA to align the process of map approval in Missouri and Illinois so that Illinois counties would not be at a disadvantage to the neighboring Missouri counties,” stated Les Sterman, chief supervisor of construction and the works for the FPD Council, in his communication back to FEMA .
The council’s letter disputes the procedure announced by FEMA and asks that the Agency honor the law by initiating a new appeal process in Illinois to mirror what it is doing in Missouri. The letter also notes that there is credible information supporting the contention that FEMA hastened the release of flawed maps for St. Louis and St. Charles Counties in order to more quickly release the preliminary maps for Southwestern Illinois.
Copies of the letters are available for the general public to view on the recently launched website for the St. Louis Metro East Levee Issues Alliance, www.stlmetroeastlevees.org. They can be found on the News section under the Correspondence heading.
“We invite people to take a look at these letters to gain a better understanding of the continuing inequity being demonstrated by FEMA,” notes Patrick McKeehan, executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, which is administering the Alliance. “We also encourage them to take advantage of the contact information for FEMA on the website to get in touch with Director Fugate to let him know how flawed they consider this remapping process to be.”