By Susanna Sheehan
Tuesday, October 01, 2013 02:25 PM
Duxbury will join other coastal towns in appealing the new flood insurance maps issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Duxbury Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to formally appeal the preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) as presented by FEMA. They also voted to authorize Town Manager Rene Read to hire one or two consultants to create a report for the appeal at a cost of no more than $10,000. The town has until Oct. 16 to file the appeal, which requires technical engineering data and information.
Selectman Shawn Dahlen said he has been studying the proposed flood maps for Duxbury. While FEMA says that there are only eight more structures in Duxbury on the new maps in comparison to the current maps, Dahlen said it was brought to his attention that on the new maps Gurnet Road is now an “Elevation 8,” which would mean that during a worst case scenario storm, or 100 year storm, all of Gurnet Road would be eight feet underwater.
“It would be a significant impact on insurance rates for those homes and it could devalue them,” he said. “We should look to make sure that FEMA is doing those elevations correctly.”
Dahlen said that the highest water elevation ever recorded in Boston was at 10.5 during the Blizzard of 1978. After that storm, the elevations for Duxbury were calculated to be 11.
According to Dahlen, the new elevation on the flood maps “is saying that the water would be six and a half feet higher in Duxbury than it was in the Blizzard of ’78.”
“That doesn’t sound right to me,” he added.
Marshfield and Scituate have already filed appeals with FEMA, and Dahlen said he contacted three consultants who were working on appeals for these and other coastal towns. The costs of each report, which include technical calculations and proposed corrected elevations for the FEMA maps, could vary from $3,500 to $5,000.
“They are appealing it successfully in other communities,” said Dahlen, adding that he knows of two errors on local maps that have been corrected.
Although the consultants have only two weeks in which to create a report used for the appeal, Dahlen said that after the appeal is filed with FEMA, the agency will allow another 30 days for additional information.