Flood plain changes could cost property owners

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – FEMA is changing Lackawanna County’s flood maps.

The agency and the county’s flood risk coalition held an open house Tuesday night for the public to view the maps and ask questions. It was held at the Albright Memorial Library.

Residents were able to talk one on one with flood insurance experts. They were shown where they are in the flood plain and how changes are impacting their property.

“Simple things like cleaning your gutters can reduce some of it they may want to consider elevating their utilities getting their hot water heater off the ground, their air conditioner so if they do get some water in their basement they’re not getting a lot of damage,” Maggie Dunn, outreach coordinator mitigation division region 3 FEMA said.

The maps were redone because of changes in precipitation development and the simple fact that they haven’t been updated since the 70s.

The new maps take effect in August 2020.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is changing Lackawanna County’s flood map.

It’s getting mixed reviews from residents who live up and down the Lackawanna River. Beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening, Lackawanna County residents will be able to meet with FEMA representatives to understand the new map and what may change next year.

From Scranton to Carbondale, FEMA’s new flood map for Lackawanna County is full of color. Red and yellow represent the area of change. Decreased flood risk areas are colored yellow while red represents areas where the risk has increased.

“I think overall it’s a good thing because I think it’s going to make more people aware that their home might be located in a flood zone and they should get flood insurance and for those whose homes come out, they are going to see a relief from having to pay,” Cesare Forcorni, Dickson City Borough Manager said.

Forcorni says in Lackawanna County, there are more residents no longer considered in the flood plain than being listed in one. According to the map, those in red and blue will be in the new flood plain.

Property owners who may be new to the plain may need flood insurance if they have a federally backed mortgage. Those who already have flood insurance may see an increase or decrease in their premium.

“We have new information about rainfall and we have new information about development and all of that impacts how it can flood in the county so it’s important to get latest information out there to residents and municipalities so they can use it,” Maggie Dunn, outreach coordinator mitigation division region 3 FEMA said.

Dunn says with weather patterns and land development changes, it was time to update the county’s map that was decades old. Dunn says the updated map is based on a 100-year flood and won’t be implemented until summer 2020. Mayor Alex Chelik of Mayfield disagrees.

“The only reason they are doing it is they have to expand that flood insurance pool so it at least is somewhat affordable,” Chelik said.

Those who live along the Lackawanna River have not seen a flood since the 50s. Many give thanks to the levee, not approved by FEMA, that stretches from Dickson City to Mayfield.

Lackawanna County Flood Risk Coalition and FEMA are hosting a public open house at the Albright Memorial Library from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. You’ll be able to ask questions and learn about the new map and insurance.

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Updated flood plain maps could mean higher insurance bills for some property owners in Lackawanna County. The public will get a chance to look at the plans Tuesday night at an open house.

Early Tuesday morning, the Lackawanna County Flood Risk Coalition met with officials to see the changes firsthand. The county EMA, FEMA, local mayors, and councilmen all met at the 911 Center in Jessup. The officials gathered to see how changes in the flood plain would affect local property owners.

If a property is now considered to be in a flood plain on the newly changed maps, property owners would then need to purchase separate flood insurance.

The public can view the new maps Tuesday at the Albright Memorial Library in Scranton between 6pm and 8 pm.

Reporter Cody Butler will have more on this story and what it means to property owners on Eyewitness News at 5pm.

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