Compared to Polk County, Crookston is further along in the process of securing its LOMR

    When it comes to flood hazard risks, flood plain maps, flood insurance and everything else related to high water and how you can protect yourself from it or recover from, Crookston’s City Hall was the place to be Wednesday afternoon.   

    The Polk County preliminary flood hazard maps have been released and, given the inevitable changes in various flood plain boundaries that impact property owners, a 2 1/2 hour open house was held so that impacted county residents could come in and find out exactly how their situation had changed – or not changed – and how they needed to react to the changes.   

    “The water in 1997 was right there, right in our yard,” a woman said as she poked her finger at a picture from above looking down on her family’s rural Polk County property. “The easement’s been moved a little bit, but not enough so that we have to pay a higher rate. We can still pay the lower rate, thank God.”   

    Prior to the open house for Polk County residents, a getting-up-to-speed session, of sorts, was held in the chambers for FEMA, Corps of Engineers personnel, and various Crookston engineers and other officials who need to know how the 100-year flood plain map is going to change exactly, now that a new levee system has removed all but a very small portion of Crookston from the 100-year flood plain.   

    In advance of the actual revised map and certified levee system, Crookston officials and residents are especially anxious to secure, from FEMA, a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR), which would allow properties that had long been within the 100-year flood plain to now be treated as though they are not. That would allow more comprehensive improvements to homes and other properties that would be freed from the constraints of the National Flood Insurance Program that greatly limits how much money can be invested in a flood-plain property.   

    Public Works Director Pat Kelly earlier this summer informed city council members that some significant hurdles had been cleared, and Crookston would likely have its LOMR in hand in a few months, not years.   

    But Wednesday, Kelly said, some FEMA representatives in their presentation at city hall lumped Crookston into Polk County as a whole, saying the LOMR for the county and affected communities was on track for completion in late 2015.   

    “After the meeting, I said, no, we’re actually quite a bit ahead of that, we’re already well into the communication and notification process,” Kelly said, adding that if no red flags are risen, Crookston’s LOMR could take effect Nov. 14, 2014. “They seemed to think that could be the case for Crookston, to have us further along in the game than the county,” he added.