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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Digital map project funded

Sunday, June 17, 2007

SIKESTON -- Scott County will get new floodplain maps developed with federal funding.

Missouri is receiving over $4.2 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency to update and digitalize flood maps in 15 counties and the city of St. Louis, according to a press release from Gov. Matt Blunt.

"This mapping project will help update community flooding hazards and better manage floodplain development," Blunt said in the press release. "The new maps will also ensure Missourians can continue to purchase flood insurance to protect their homes and businesses."

The allocated funds will not go to the county. Funding will go to the engineering consultants who will be doing the work, according to Dale Schmutzler, floodplain management officer for the State Emergency Management Agency.

"It's a company called AMEC," Schmutzler said. "The office that is doing this is out of Topeka, Kan. They're doing several of the counties -- I'm not sure if they are doing all 15 counties."

The university mapping center will provide some assistance on this project in some counties, Schmutzler explained, although AMEC will be doing the overview for all recipient counties and the city.

The amount allocated for work in for Scott County was not available as of press time.

"Some of the preliminary work is already under way," Schmutzler said. He said what is called a "scoping" meeting was held several months ago for Scott County.

"What that involved was a SEMA representative and an AMEC representative met with local officials to determine what kind of mapping the county already had," Schmutzler said.

The best best technical data available from local communities such as aerial maps, ground topography, 911 mapping, special engineering studies, and correct street names was gathered "so the best information available would be integrated into the new maps," Schmutzler said.

While a completion date has not been set for the project, the general goal "is to have preliminary maps in the hands of local officials within 12 to 18 months of the scoping session," Schmutzler said.

He said this will be followed with a comment period during which the preliminary maps will be compared with local knowledge to make sure streets have the right names, land features have the correct topography, etc. "The local governments have an opportunity to comment and citizens have an opportunity to comment," Schmutzler said. "When these maps become available, there are public notices."

The public notices are required by FEMA, he said.

When complete, the new digital floodplain maps should be able to be integrated with the county's geographic information system as an overlay.

Digital upgrades of the floodplain maps are important because they apply the latest technology to outdated maps and show areas at risk for flooding, allowing businesses and property owners to make better financial decisions about protecting their property, according to Blunt's press release.

As an advocate for improving government efficiency through technology, Blunt said he is pleased to receive these grants to digitally upgrade outdated maps.

Counties can expect more accurate floodplain maps as a result of map digitalization. With a more accurate system, the upgrade increases development potential in floodplains and more clearly shows uninhabitable areas.

SEMA will use the $4,237,588 grant to modernize flood insurance rate maps for Clay, Crawford, Henry, Howell, Johnson, LaClede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Newton, Platte, Pulaski, Ray, St. Francois and Stone counties in addition to Scott County and St. Louis.

This grant is part of FEMA's Map Modernization Program. The project's goal is for the federal funds to be used to digitally map counties with known flood hazards by 2011.

In 2006, Missouri received $3.2 million to produce digital maps for 38 counties. When the entire project is complete, a total of 73 counties and St. Louis will have digitalized flood maps.