The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Editorial, 5/29/8

Controversy and disagreement spurred by new flood plain maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for portions of Saltillo need the clarity of additional, direct public discussions involving property owners and engineers representing both sides.

FEMA’s new maps (on which National Flood Insurance Program eligibility and level of risk are determined for residential, commercial and industrial properties nationwide) were prepared several layers of government removed from the city of Saltillo.

A public hearing was held in mid-April following a briefing for government officials. Disagreement with the maps surfaced at that meeting, and an appeals process extends until August. However, residents must pay for engineering studies disputing FEMA’s official position, but it is possible to amend the FEMA maps, which are provisional until after the appeals and comment period.

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., has requested a second face-to-face public meeting, and he has sought more specificity from FEMA about its conclusions and protested the notice process and short appeals period. Wicker also says if the mapping technology is not the “most accurate technology available,” the property owners should not have to bear the cost of correcting the data.

FEMA has not responded.