FEMA would do county residents justice by giving its flood plain map a second look

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The Federal Emergency Management Administration hasn't had the best of records lately so Bedford County is right to be checking behind FEMA on its study of flood zones.

With the flooding in the Midwest still fresh in this nation's mind, no one who should be covered with flood insurance should be without it. At the same time, those who don't need the insurance shouldn't be required to pay the extra money for it.

That's what the county's study is all about.

The recent study by FEMA moved 1,000 parcels in the county to a higher flood risk zone. And the county believes at least some of those have been included when they shouldn't be.

The county was right to hire a consultant to run an independent check on the FEMA data. And FEMA, apparently, was using some old data to reach its conclusions. FEMA was using maps a quarter of a century old. Already FEMA has reevaluated its conclusions around some Lake properties, reducing the size of the flood plain. And more changes might be on the way.

The county hopes, because of errors in other areas as well, that FEMA will update its study using new topographical information. By next week the county expects to have officially sent those comments to FEMA, prior to the public comment deadline on the study. Individual property owners should also make their voices heard if they disagree with FEMA's study.

What's at stake is that if the maps aren't as accurate as possible, some Bedford County residents could be forced to purchase expensive flood insurance when they don't need it. It's certainly important to identify any parcels which should be included, but it's just as vital to not include parcels that shouldn't. Homeowners should be protected, but they shouldn't be forced to pay $500 a year for something they don't need.

FEMA needs to take a second look, before the flood plain maps become official.