Middletown Flood Commission is seeking insurance subsidies

By Geoff Samuels
Comments on a resolution in support of the continuation of insurance subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Programs’ (NFIP) were aired at Mondays’ Flood Commission Meeting in Middletown.
Middletown Supervisor Marjorie Miller read a feedback letter written by Mike Jastremski of the Delaware County Planning Department in which he stated that given the poor financial condition of the NFIP, he felt it unlikely that petitioning for a continuance of subsidized flood insurance would be affective. This, said Middletown Code Enforcement Officer Pat Davis, would have a detrimental effect on property sales in the area, as new property owners would not have the same access to subsidized flood insurance as the current owners do.

After some discussion, it was decided that the resolution should be modified somewhat, but then adopted not only by the flood commission, but by the county, villages and schools as well.

Maps are coming
The new and much anticipated FEMA flood maps that contain updated probabilities of a given water level occurring on any particular property within the newly established floodplain will be released starting in May. According to Phil Eskeli, project manager at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the first edition, or “working map” for Delaware County will be released to Middletown’s Map Steering Committee and other community leaders on May 15.

Another meeting is proposed for July 18 where all the town supervisors could attend and take a look at the new maps, and finally another proposed meeting on August 7 would be an open house where area residents could come in and meet with someone from the state or FEMA to see if and how they will be affected by the updated flood information.

There will be two types of maps released, explained Eskeli. One will be the “regulatory map,” which will contain visual descriptions of the newly established flood plains, and the other will be a “risk map” which community planners will use. The risk map will include a depth grid, which will tell property owners how much water can be expected on their properties in any particular flood situation.

Graydon Dutcher, program coordinator for Delaware County Soil and Water, said that the DEC will actually be working in some of the streams this summer and that many of the projects, depending on the weather patterns, could be completed before the end of September. “If we get a nice dry summer it would be great…to get all this work done,” he said.

Making progress
Miller then asked about progress with the Local Flood Hazard Mitigation Analysis (LFHMA), to which Rick Weidenbach, executive director, replied, “We’re moving along,” adding that by the time of the next meeting, the commission should have a draft of the analysis ready for the commission’s final input.

Eskeli explained further, “You were provided funds to do an analysis to identify where the main points that cause flooding in your community are. In order to use those funds, we (DEP) have to get a consultant to do that analysis. We have been preparing a request for proposal over the last three months which would outline for consultants the key steps they would take in doing an engineering analysis.”

At this point said Eskeli, the engineers would take the updated information from FEMA and figure out where and how to apply that information along the East Branch to make the changes necessary to reduce flood plain elevations. After the engineering analysis is complete, the municipalities will have an array of options that they can choose from to pursue or not, and when those decisions have been made, “you’re ready to go for your funding,” he said.”