The people of Atlanta are finding out this week what the people of Fargo Moorhead found out last March: You can't depend on government flood maps anymore.
The maps are used to determine high- and low-risk areas in the event of flooding, but they're also offering misleading 'advice' to homeowners who are trying to figure out the byzantine system of buying flood insurance. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports today that the system is spelling financial disaster for many residents of the flooding.
But in reality, the maps aren't nearly as reliable as homeowners might want them to be. They are often hopelessly outdated, especially in a rapidly-developing place like Atlanta where new homes and parking lots can shift the flood zone's boundaries.
Even when the maps are up- to-date, they measure the flood expected to result from a storm that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. Storms can exceed that expectation. And even in lesser rainfalls, floodwaters can travel beyond the official zones because drainage systems may be blocked or overwhelmed. When that happens the water backs up and can rush into the homes nearby.
During the Red River flooding last spring in Clay County, we found only 190 homes inside the "flood plain" were covered by insurance. There were about 11,000 structures damaged or threatened by the flood.(1 Comments)
We got a fair amount of e-mail on Friday from Lutherans who weren't happy that we characterized a threatened split in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America as a "backlash" against last month's vote at its convention in Minneapolis to allow non-celibate homosexuals to serve as clergy. Many of the letter writers described widespread acceptance of gays in their church and the relatively few people -- 1,200 -- who were to gather on Saturday to decide whether to sever ties with the church.
They did meet today and decided to give it a year.
It would be impossible to have attended last month's sessions at the Minneapolis Convention Center and still not realize that a split in the church -- any kind of split in the church -- worried most delegates on both sides of the issue.(2 Comments)