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County to look at flood ordinance
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Effingham County commissioners will have their first reading of the flood damage prevention ordinance today.

There are very few actual changes to the ordinance, county engineer Steve Liotta said. It transfers the implementation of the flood maps from the zoning administrator to Liotta. Also added are critical facilities standards, which will restrict the types of building in flood zones.

As an example, Liotta said, facilities that would cause a heightened disaster if a flood occurs would be restricted.

“A flood zone ordinance does not stop development in a flood zone,” he said.

The commissioners must adopt the ordinance and new flood maps in order for residents to obtain flood insurance from the federal government, County Administrator David Crawley said.

“Just because you’re not in a flood zone doesn’t mean your house won’t flood,” Liotta said. “I recommend getting flood insurance.”

In October 2009, the proposed new maps were displayed at a public meeting and displayed new maps. The maps are done and have received a final digital layer.

“It was a very large turnout,” Liotta said of the meeting.

The first flood hazard boundary maps were created in June 1978, and the original flood damage prevention ordinance was adopted in 1986. The new digital flood insurance rate maps are done, with the final digital layers added. The digital flood insurance rate maps will be issued Dec. 17, Liotta said.

Flood insurance rate maps were issued in 1987 and the ordinance was revised in 1991 and 1995.

“So we have a set of 23-year-old maps and a 15-year-old ordinance. We are quite overdue for some changes to this,” Liotta said.

One change that’s already been made is the changing of the name of the 100-year flood chance. That’s now the 1 percent chance of flooding.

“People used to think the 100-year storm occurred every 100 years,” Liotta said. “There’s no such thing as the 100-year flood plain anymore.”

The county is in a flood zone but most of it is not in a special flood hazard area. Flood insurance for homes not in a special flood hazard area is cheaper.