It’s All About the Flood Maps!

The Pocahontas County Commission met in special session on June 28th. It began with the commissioners approving end-of-fiscal year invoices. They then agreed to distribute to the County Clerk’s Office, the interest accrued on the hundred-thousand-dollar COVID block grant from Governor Justice. The remaining two and a half hours of the meeting was informational discussions about the county’s present and future flood maps and how those maps might affect the commission’s proposed two-acre rubble disposal site at the East Fork Industrial Park in Frank, WV.

Donald McNeel, the Pocahontas County Flood Plain Manager and Chuck Grishaber, State Coordinator of the West Virginia National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) made a presentation using the on-line West Virginia Flood Tool maps.

A detailed flood map of the East Fork Industrial Park was displayed and showed that parts of that county property were clearly were marked off as being in the existing flood plain. Commission President Helmick said such areas would be precluded by the WV Solid Waste Management Board from being approved for use as a disposal site. Other areas adjourning those were shaded in a light greenish-blue color on the map.  McNeel said he believed those shaded areas are areas being considered for future flood plain expansion.

While the proposed disposal site is not in the current flood zone areas it is in that shaded future expansion area. McNeel and Grishaber believed the shaded areas might also be off limits as a disposal site, but were not sure. They looked for alternate sites in the industrial park for a two-acre site on the property that would be clearly out of both the current and proposed flood zones, and would still meet the requirements of the State Solid Waste Management Board that the site is located at least three-hundred feet from any river, stream or pond. They could not locate any alternate site which would meet that three-hundred-foot requirement. It was suggested that the county could apply to the Solid Waste Management Board for a variance from that requirement.

The other potential industrial development sites on the property that the commission has been considering are all clearly outside of flood plain restricted areas.

They did receive some other good news about the disposal site when the Commissioners joined a live Internet FEMA Risk Map of Pocahontas County Kick-off Meeting, hosted by Bob Pierson, the FEMA Region III Project Manager and Brandon Cramer, GIS Analyst with Wood Resilient Environment

That meeting was held to obtain input from, and answer questions by, the County Commission and other local officials about FEMA’s new flood plain mapping project they are about to undertake in the county.

Commission President Walt Helmick asked the FEMA personnel about those blue-green highlighted proposed flood plain expansions shown on the WV Flood Tool map and whether those areas are restricted as flood zones. The FEMA authorities answered that those areas are unofficial and not currently restricted areas, and they might or might not be labeled as flood plain after the new mapping project is completed several years from now.

Donald McNeel, Chuck Grishaber, and the FEMA authorities all agreed that the new FEMA flood plain maps when completed will be much more accurate than the ten-year-old flood maps currently in place.  They explained that this is because of the use of newly created and greatly improved mapping technology and techniques such as: High Elevation Data Scanning known as LIDAR; new river flood studies; new hydrologic and hydraulic conditions; and other technologies not available when the current flood maps were created.

At the end of the commission meeting, Helmick suggested that they proceed with the current location for the disposal site and let the WV Solid Waste Management Board make the final decision as to whether the site is in compliance with all of their regulations.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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