Editorial: Local government collaborates well in FEMA battle

Published 9:28 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

We commend Hollandale, Freeborn County and the Turtle Creek Watershed District for coming together on behalf of property owners in the drainage area of Turtle Creek in and around Hollandale.

One of the best aspects of local government is its ability to collaborate and work with other local entities in dealing with the bulwark formed by state and federal governments. In this case, the Federal Emergency Management Agency produced shoddy 100-year-flood maps that appear to be off by three feet.

Instead of simply seeking the evidence the watershed district possess, admitting an error and having its contractor go out and measure again, FEMA requires all parties to go through its appeals process because, as silly as it sounds, the burden of proof to change FEMA’s own maps is not on FEMA.

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FEMA is smartly doing more prevention and getting away from compensating people who unwisely build in flood-prone areas. However, in its effort to update maps to err on the dryer side of life, the agency took an unrealistic approach in flatter-than-a-pancake Hollandale, where three feet wipes out miles upon miles.

This is an error that must be undone for the sake of the future of Hollandale and a large portion of northeast Freeborn County.

Even in the flood of September 2004 — which is considered more like a 500-year flood by some officials — didn’t flood the amount of land depicted by the proposed FEMA maps.

We praise the Turtle Creek Watershed District for being on top of this issue and noticing FEMA’s error. We wish the district the best in the appeals process, and we thank Hollandale and Freeborn County for assisting to pay the $12,000 expense for engineering models of the Turtle Creek area.