The U.S. Army Corps of Engineering notified the city that the current levees received an unacceptable rating in March of 2009, and took away their letter of support for Federal Emergency Management Agency authorization. With FEMA backing, properties around the levees are seen as protected from a 100-year flood event.
The bad news is that FEMA has begun remapping the floodplain as if the levees were not there and the new maps will take effect in February 2012. Many businesses and property owners in the area could be required to buy expensive flood insurance as a result.
Thankfully the city has requested ordinance changes that would help property owners that are facing unnecessary remapping, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has inserted two provisions in a spending bill that would exempt the Trinity River Project from federal laws.
The legislation is an attempt to declare the Trinity River levee system “historic” under the National Historic Preservation Act. The city expects to spend $150 million to repair the levees so that citizens would not have their pockets bleeding as a result of pricy flood insurance.
To pay for these improvements, the city will tap into various bond programs and use funds from the Dallas Water Utilities. City officials are also working on a few national immediate passage of companion bills HR 3415 and S 3051 that would amend the National Flood Insurance Act.
Mayor Tom Leppert supports the legislation and he wants the levee repairs completed as quickly as possible. It is evident that he has the well being of Dallas’ citizens at the forefront of his mind, as he looks out for our safety and our wallets.