|By James Halpin, The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Authorities converged at the
The levee, which has protected the
In 1990, the corps estimated the 100-year storm -- a high-magnitude event with about a 1 percent chance of occurring every year -- as moving 254,000 cubic feet of water per second down the
"What used to be a 100-year event back when the project was originally designed, it's a much larger event now," Johnson said. "Upstream portions of the project were fine, but unfortunately when you go to the tail end of the
As a result, the corps recommended the
The "factor of safety" is measured in terms of freeboard -- the distance between the projected high-water mark and the top of the levee. The required amount of freeboard varies -- typically it is between two and three feet, Johnson said. The exact extent of the deficiency along the affected levee sections was not available Wednesday.
The lack of accreditation will not affect the current flood maps, but it will impact the next maps, which will begin next year with a process called the Levee Analysis and Mapping Procedure, said
"That's when there may be an impact on flood insurance," Gruber said, adding that in some locations, residents could face a mandatory requirement to buy flood insurance. "That is not determined at this point -- what the impacts will be for the system as a whole, and especially for individual property owners."
Residents and local officials will have the opportunity to comment on preliminary maps before they take effect, he said. Communities will need to provide technical data to have an impact on the maps, and
"A lot's changed in 30 years," Belleman said. "The frequency and intensity of storms has increased, we've got increased land development in the watershed, the science has improved, the technology has improved to do this type of modeling. These have all coalesced together to come up with the results that we're seeing today, 30 years after the fact."
During the presentation for local officials, Gruber talked about several programs that could help communities lower flood insurance costs for residents.
He also asked about whether there are plans to increase the height of the levee downstream, which he said would result in more flooding in his area.
"If it is, I might as well put the sign of the cross on my town, because I'm done," Denisco said. "I don't know where to turn."
"My gut is telling me that although those 850 homes are very, very important, the benefit won't be worth the amount of federal dollars," Jordan said.
Officials are holding public meetings on the subject next week. A meeting in
The meetings, which will be held from
For information or to arrange for disability accommodations, contact Flood Authority Executive Director
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