Updated floodplain information to be presented at open house

MARIETTA – Residents of the area worried about the potential effects of a flood on their homes are invited to attend an open house event at Washington State Community College Feb. 27.

The open house is a joint effort between the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The event will cover the recently completed preliminary Flood Insurance Study and the flood insurance rate maps that accompany it.

“FEMA has studied the area again and came up with a new flood map,” said Connie Hoblitzell, the zoning and floodplain manager for Washington County

This is going to be only the third updated floodplain study that Washington County has received in the last 32 years.

“The last time they updated the flood insurance rate maps was in 2006,” Hoblitzell said.

“Before that the last update was all the way back in 1981.”

Hoblitzell has already noticed a number of areas that have changed based upon the new data in the updated floodplain map.

“Most of the properties on Lawton Road in Devola were previously thought to have been in the floodplain,” she said. “But the new data shows that most of those homes have been removed from the floodplain.”

The open house will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Prior to the that there will be a meeting for Washington County community officials from 2 until 3:30 p.m.

While there will not be a FEMA representative present at the event, Catherine Skalak, the floodplain map coordinator for the state of Ohio will be on hand to answer questions.

“This update is going to put some people in the new floodplain and remove some who were previously there,” said Skalak. “The important thing is that the overall risk to homes in the area will be easier calculated now that the study is updated.”

Residents who were previously located outside the floodplain will be informed if the risk to their home has been adjusted.

“We have sent out postcards to any homeowner that will be affected by the changes of the floodplain map,” said Skalak. “That’s why we want people to attend so that local officials and ODNR officials can address any questions citizens might have.”

Washington County Commissioner Tim Irvine’s said his main priority is to make sure area residents understand the importance of the information available at the open house.

“The purpose of the entire event is to inform the public so they can see the adjustments that have been made regarding their home and the floodplain,” he said.

“The information provided at this open house could be the difference between dropping or adding flood insurance for some.”